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SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 



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SCENES OF 
CLERICAL LIFE 



BY 

GEORGE ELIOT 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

HUGH THOMSON 



S-onti0n 
MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1906 

All rights rezsrued 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Thjs Sad Fortunes op the Rev. Amos Barton . . . 1 

Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story 105 

Janet's Repentance 247 



156196 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

COLOURED 

PAGE 

* To show your tight ankles ' (page 18) . . Frontispiece 

A superiority to the things of the flesh 62 

Mr. Hackit would take Dickey up on horseback .... 98 

* Ah, you black-eyed monkey ' 136 

A spaniel of resigned temper 145 

In the most lover- like position 171 

Biding excursions 187 

The skein of silk 211 

Dorcas was at the door 231 

Mr. Pittman rode into Milby every morning 262 

Lighted her father's pipe 266 

She nods to Jonathan Lamb, the old parish clerk .... 296 

* This way, Mr. Tryan, this way * 322 

Pale, weary, and depressed 347 

Dempster's courtship 403 

Poor Janet poured forth her sad tale 414 



IN THE TEXT 

Made to stand up on the seat 6 

The choir 9 

To pick up a stitch 14 

Mrs. Amos Barton 22 

Busy cutting bread-and-butter 28 

* Old Maxum,' Mr. Fitchett, and Mrs. Brick 33 

vii 



viii SCENES OF CLERICAL UFE 

PAGE 

The t«o v..s.eii ou she ao£i : Jlillv ani iLt C<^ii:ie» ... 42 

Iiiitiftic*! LvJj Portrr'* di:i(;iL:er* 52 

Little Dii-kr}- Lavitg Li^ i;:ni :o s: wiih MamaiA ... 59 

* What a di^graotful bu>ii:eas tbi« is ' 68 

The Clerical Meeting 71 

Nanny and Mr. Jao»b Tomms 82 

Jet's breakfast 85 

Looking ap with a vague fear 93 

Milly's grave 102 

Dame Fripp and her pig 109 

' What zoo dot in zoo ponet r IIBp 

He brought her here 122* 

She trips along before the elder 12(S 

Mr. Bates's song 150 

' Dey not hurt Tina ' 153" 

Toddling after him 158 

Labonring along the wet paths 17^ 

* You seem out of spirits this morning, Tina ' . . . . 20? 

Struck with something like awe 241 

The tall Miss Pittmans 255l 

Turn with a titter to handsome Mr. Bob Lowme .... 260k 

Flogging his galloping horse 276 

The ladies fixed their eyes on him 282 

Pushed her slowly before him 292 

* Your bonnet wants pulling a trifle forwarder, my child . . 29& 

The new frock 318 

Leaned his face low on his hand 325 

So they shook hands 334 

When the lash fell 372 



THE SAD FORTUNES 
to 

OP THE 

REVEREND AMOS BARTON 



c 




\i Muff ii-^-sVv'^ST^ 



CMH.1PTER . I- 

^gEEeEETO:^ -CHURCH was a very different- 
looking building five-and-twenty years ago. To 
be sure, its substantial stone tower looks at you 
through its intelligent eye, the clock, with the 
friendly expression of former days; but in 
everything else what changes ! Now there is 
a wide span of slated roof flanking the old 
steeple ; the windows are tall and symmetrical ; 
the outer doors are resplendent with oak-graining, the inner doors 
reverentially noiseless with a garment of red baize ; and the walls, 
you are convinced, no lichen will ever again effect a settlement 
on — they are smooth and innutrient as the summit of the Rev. 
Amos Barton's head, after ten years of baldness and supererogatory 
soap. Pass through the baize doors and you will see the nave 
filled with well -shaped benches, understood to be free seats ; 
while in certain eligible corners, less directly under the fire of 
the clergyman's eye, there are pews reserved for the SheppertOn 
gentility. Ample galleries are supported on iron pillars, and in 

3 




4 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

one of them stands the crowning glory, the very clasp or aigrette 
of Shepperton church -adornment — namely, an organ, not very 
much out of repair, on which a collector of small rents, differenti- 
ated by the force of circumstances into an organist, will accompany 
the alacrity of your departure after the blessing, by a sacred 
minuet or an easy * Gloria/ 

Immense improvement ! says the well-regulated mind, which 
unintermittingly rejoices in the New Police, the Tithe Commutation 
Act, the penny-post, and all guarantees of human advancement, 
and has no moments when conservative-reforming intellect takes 
a nap, while imagination does a little Toryism by the sly, revelling 
in regret that dear, old, brown, crumbling, picturesque inefficiency 
is everywhere giving place to spick-and-span new-painted, new- 
varnished efficiency, which will yield endless diagrams, plans, 
elevations, and sections, but alas ! no picture. Mine, I fear, is 
not a well-regulated mind : it has an occasional tenderness for 
old abuses ; it lingers with a certain fondness over the days of 
fiasal clerks and top-booted parsons, and has a sigh for the 
departed shades of vulgar errors. So it is not surprising that 
I recall with a fond sadness Shepperton Church as it was in the 
old days, with its outer coat of rough stucco, its red-tiled roof, 
its heterogeneous windows patched with desultory bits of painted 
glass, and its little flight of steps with their wooden rail running 
up the outer wall, and leading to the school-children's gallery. 

Then inside, what dear old quaintnesses ! which I began to 
look at with delight, even when I was so crude a member of the 
congregation, that my nurse found it necessary to provide for the 
reinforcement of my devotional patience by smuggling bread-and 
butter into the sacred edifice. There was the chancel, guarded 
by two little cherubim looking uncomfortably squeezed between 
arch and wall, and adorned with the escutcheons of the Oldinport 
family, which showed me inexhaustible possibilities of meaning 
in their blood-red hands, their death's-heads and cross-bones, their 
leopards' paws, and Maltese crosses. There were inscriptions on 
the panels of the singing -gallery, telling of benefactions to the 
poor of Shepperton, with an involuted elegance of capitals and 
final flourishes, which my alphabetic erudition traced with ever- 
new delight. No benches in those days ; but huge roomy pews, 
round which devout church-goers sat during Wessons,' trying to 
look anywhere else than into each other's eyes. No low partitions 
allowing you, with a dreary absence of contrast and mystery, to 
see everything at all moments ; but tall dark panels, under whose 
shadow I sank with a sense of retirement through the Litany^ 
only to feel with more intensity my burst into the conspicuousness 



%*. 



/i.»\^ 




Made to stand up on the seat* 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 7 

of public life when I was made to stand up on the seat during 
the psalms or the singing. 

And the singing was no mechanical affair of official routine ; it 
had a drama. As the moment of psalmody approached, by 
some process to me as mysterious and untraceable as the opening 
of the flowers or the breaking-out of the stars, a slate appeared in 
front of the gallery, advertising in bold characters the psalm 
about to be sung, lest the sonorous announcement of the clerk 
should still leave the bucolic mind in doubt on that head. Then 
followed the migration of the clerk to the gallery, where, in 
company with a bassoon, two key-bugles, a carpenter understood 
to have an amazing power of singing 'counter,' and two lesser 
musical stars, he formed the complement of a choir regarded in 
Shepperton as one of distinguished attraction, occasionally known 
to draw hearers from the next parish. The innovation of hymn- 
books was as yet undreamed of; even the New Version was 
regarded as a sort of melancholy tolerance, as part of the 
common degeneracy in a time when prices had dwindled, and a 
cotton gown was no longer stout enough to last a lifetime ; for 
the lyrical taste of the best heads in Shepperton had been formed 
on Sternhold and Hopkins. But the greatest triumphs of the 
Shepperton choir were reserved for the Sundays when the slate 
announced an Anthem, with a dignified abstinence from particular- 
isation, both words and music lying far beyond the reach of the 
most ambitious amateur in the congregation : — an anthem in 
which the key-bugles always ran away at a great pace, while the 
bassoon every now and then boomed a flying shot after them. 

As for the clergyman, Mr. Gilfil, an excellent old gentleman, 
who smoked very long pipes and preached very short sermons, I 
must not speak of him, or I might be tempted to tell the story of 
his life, which had its little romance, as most lives have between 
the ages of teetotum and tobacco. And at present I am concerned 
with quite another sort of clergyman — the Rev. Amos Barton, t 
who did not come to Shepperton until long after Mr. Gilfil had ; 
departed this life — until after an interval in which Evangelicalism 
and the Catholic Question had begun to agitate the rustic mind i 
with controversial debates. A Popish blacksmith had produced 
a strong Protestant reaction by declaring that, as soon as the 
Emancipation Bill was passed, he should do a great stroke of 
business in gridirons ; and the disinclination of the Shepperton 
parishioners generally to dim the unique glory of St. Lawrence, 
rendered the Church and Constitution an affair of their business 
and bosoms. A zealous Evangelical preacher had made the old 
sounding-board vibrate with quite a different sort of elocution 



8 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

from Mr. Gilfirs ; the hymn-book had almost Buperseded the Old 
and New Versions ; and the great square pews were crowded 
with new faces from distant corners of the parish — perhaps from 
Dissenting chapels. 

You are not imagining, I hope, that Amos Barton was the 
incumbent of Shepperton. He was no such thing. Those were 
days when a man could hold three small livings, starve a curate 
a-piece on two of them, and live badly himself on the third. It 
was so with the Vicar of Shepperton ; a vicar given to bricks and 
mortar, and thereby running into debt far away in a northern 
county — who executed his vicarial functions towards Shepperton 
by pocketing the sum of thirty-five pounds ten per annum, the 
net surplus remaining to him from the proceeds of that living, 
after the disbursement of eighty pounds as the annual stipend of 
his curate. And now, pray, can you solve me the following 
problem ? Given a man with a wife and six children : let him 
be obliged always to exhibit himself when outside his own door 
in a suit of black broadcloth, such as will not undermine the 
foundations of the Establishment by a paltry plebeian glossiness 
or an unseemly whiteness at the edges ; in a snowy cravat, which 
is a serious investment of labour in the hemming, starching, and 
ironing departments ; and in a hat which shows no symptom of 
taking to the hideous doctrine of expediency, and shaping itself 
according to circumstances ; let him have a parish large enough 
to create an external necessity for abundant shoe-leather, and an 
internal necessity for abundant beef and mutton, as well as poor 
enough to require frequent priestly consolation in the shape of 
shillings and sixpences ; and, lastly, let him be compelled, by his 
own pride and other people's, to dress his wife and children with 
gentility from bonnet-strings to shoe-strings. By what process, of 
division can the sum of eighty pounds per annum be made to yield 
a quotient which will cover that man's weekly expenses 1 This 
y^sis the problem presented by the position of the Rev. Amos Barton, 
^ as curate of Shepperton, rather more than twenty years ago. 

What was thought of this problem, and of the man who had 
to work it out, by some of the well-to-do inhabitants of Shepperton, 
two years or more after Mr. Barton's arrival among them, you 
shall hear, if you will accompany me to Cross Farm, and to the 
fireside of Mrs. Patten, a childless old lady, who had got rich 
chiefly by the negative process of spending nothing. Mrs. Patten's 
passive accumulation of wealth, through all sorts of * bad times,' 
on the farm of which she had been sole tenant since her husband's 
death, her epigrammatic neighbour, Mrs. Hackit, sarcastically 
accounted for by supposing that * sixpences grew on the bents of 



mkkil 




The Choir. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 11 

Cross Farm ' ; while Mr. Hackit, expressing his views more 
literally, reminded his wife that ' money breeds money.' Mr. and 
JMrs. Hackit, from the neighbouring form, are Mrs. Patten's 
guests this evening; so is Jilr^JPilgrim, the doctor from the 
jearest market-town, who, though occasionally affecting aristocratic 
airs, and giving late dinners with enigmatic side-dishes and 
poisonous port, is never so comfortable as when he is relaxing 
his professional legs in one of those excellent farmhouses where 
the mice are sleek and the mistress sickly. And he is at this 
moment in clover. 

For the flickering of Mrs. Patten's bright fire is reflected in 
her bright copper tea-kettle, the home-made muflftns glisten with 
an inviting succulence, and Mrs. Patten's niece, a single lady of 
fifty, who has refused the most ineligible oft'ers out of devotion to 
her aged aunt, is pouring the rich cream into the fragrant tea 
with a discreet liberality. 

Reader ! did you ever taste such a cup of tea as Miss Gibbs is 
this moment handing to Mr. Pilgrim ? Do you know the dulcet 
strength, the animating blandness of tea sufl&ciently blended with 
real farmhouse cream? No — most likely you are a miserable 
town-bred reader, who think of cream as a thinnish white fluid, 
delivered in infinitesimal pennyworths down area steps; or 
perhaps, from a presentiment of calves' brains, you refrain from 
any lacteal addition, and rasp your tongue with unmitigated 
bohea. You have a vague idea of a milch cow as probably a 
white plaster animal standing in a butterman's window, and you 
know nothing of the sweet history of genuine cream, such as Miss 
Gibbs's : how it was this morning in the udders of the large sleek 
beasts, as they stood lowing a patient entreaty under the milking- 
shed ; how it fell with a pleasant rhythm into Betty's pail, 
sending a delicious incense into the cool air ; how it was carried 
into that temple of moist cleanliness, the dairy, where it quietly 
separated itself from the meaner elements of milk, and lay in 
mellowed whiteness, ready for the skimming-dish which trans- 
ferred it to Miss Gibbs's glass cream-jug. If I am right in my 
conjecture, you are unacquainted with the highest possibilities of 
tea ; and Mr. Pilgrim, who is holding that cup in his hand, has 
an idea beyond you. 

Mrs. Hackit declines cream; she has so long abstained from 
it with an eye to the weekly butter-money, that abstinence, 
wedded to habit, has begotten aversion. She is a thin woman 
with a chronic liver-complaint, which would have secured her 
Mr. Pilgrim's entire regard and unreserved good word, even if 
he had not been in awe of her tongue, which was as sharp as his 



12 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

own lancet. She has brought her knitting — no frivolous fancy 
knitting, but a substantial woollen stocking; the click-click 
of her knitting-needles is the running accompaniment to all 
her conversation, and in her utmost enjoyment of spoiling 
a friend's self-satisfaction, she was never known to spoil a 
stocking. 

Mrs. Patten does not admire this excessive click -clicking 
activity. Quiescence in an easy-chair, under the sense of compound 
interest perpetually accumulating, has long seemed an ample 
function to her, and she does her malevolence gently. She is a 
pretty little old woman of eighty, with a close cap and tiny flat 
white curls round her face, as natty and unsoiled and invariable 
as the waxen image of a little old lady under a glass-case ; once a 
lidy's-maid, and married for her beauty. She used to adore her 
husband; and now she adores her money, cherishing a quiet 
blood-relation's hatred for her niece, Janet Gibbs, who, she 
knows, expects a large legacy, and whom she is determined to 
disappoint. Her money shall all go in a lump to a distant 
relation of her husband's, and Janet shall be saved the trouble 
of pretending to cry, by finding that she is left with a miserable 
pittance. 

Mrs. Patten has more respect for her neighbour Mr. Hackit 
than for most people. Mr. Hackit is a shrewd substantial man, 
whose advice about crops is always worth listening to, and who is 
too well off to want to borrow money. 

And now that w^e are snug and warm with this little tea-party, 
while it is freezing with February bitterness outside, we will 
listen to what they are talking about. 

' So,' said Mr. Pilgrim, with his mouth only half empty of 
muffin, 'you had a row in Shepperton Church last Sunday. I 
was at Jem Hood's, the bassoon-man's, this morning, attending his 
wife, and he swears he'll be revenged on the parson — a confounded, 
methodistical, meddlesome chap, who must be putting his finger 
in every pie. What was it all about 1 ' 

*0, a passill o' nonsense,' said Mr. Hackit, sticking one 
thumb between the buttons of his capacious waistcoat, and 
retaining a pinch of snuff with the other — for he was but 
moderately given to *the cups that cheer but not inebriate,' 
and had already finished his tea ; * they began to sing the 
wedding psalm for a new-married couple, as pretty a psalm an' as 
pretty a tune as any in the prayer-book. It's been sung for 
every new-married couple since I was a boy. And what can be 
better ? ' Here Mr. Hackit stretched out his left arm, threw back 
his head, and broke into melody — 




'^^y0i:'^rf^ '^''^^:|?^|& 



To pick up a stitch. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 15 

* what a happy thing it is, 

Aud joyful for to see, 
Brethren to dwell together in 

Friendship and unity. 

But Mr. Barton is all for the hymus, and a sort o' music as I 
can't join in at all.' 

* And so/ said Mr. Pilgrim, recalling Mr. Hackit from lyrical 
reminiscences to narrative, * he called out Silence ! did he ? when 
he got into the pulpit ; and gave a hymn out himself to some 
meeting-house tune ? ' 

* Yes,' said Mrs. Hackit, stooping towards the candle to pick 
up a stitch, * and turned as red as a turkey-cock. I often say, 
when he preaches about meekness, he gives himself a slap in the 
face. He's like me — he's got a temper of his own.' 

* Rather a low-bred fellow, I think. Barton,' said Mr. Pilgrim, 
who hated the Rev. Amos for two reasons — because he had 
called in a new doctor, recently settled in Shepperton ; and 
because, being himself a dabbler in dinigs, he had the credit of 
having cured a patient of Mr. Pilgrim's. * They say his father 
was a Dissenting shoemaker ; and he's half a Dissenter himself 
"Why, doesn't he preach extempore in that cotfia^e up here, of a 
Sunday evening 1 ' 

' Tchuh ! ' — this was Mr. Hackit's favourite interjection — * that 
preaching without book's no good, only when a man has a gift, 
and has the Bible at his fingers' ends. It was all very well for 
Parry — he'd a gift ; and in my youth I've heard the Ranters 
out o' doors in Yorkshire go on for an hour or two on end, 
without ever sticking fast a minute. There was one clever chap, 
I remember, as used to say, " You're like the wood-pigeon ; it 
says do, do, do all day, and never sets about any work itself" 
That's bringing it home to people. But our parson's no gift at 
all that way ; he can preach as good a sermon as need be heard 
when he writes it down. But when he tries to preach wi'out 
book, he rambles about, and doesn't stick to his text ; and every 
now and then he flounders about like a sheep as has cast itself, 
and can't get on its legs again. You wouldn't like that, Mrs. 
Patten, if you was to go to church now ? ' 

*Eh, dear,' said Mrs. Patten, falling back in her chair, and 
lifting up her little withered hands, * what 'ud Mr. Gilfil say, if 
he was worthy to know the changes as have come about i' the 
church these last ten years? I don't understand these new 
sort o' doctrines. When Mr. Barton comes to see me, he talks 
about nothing but my sins and my need o' marcy. Now, Mr. 
Hackit, I've never been a sinner. From the fust beginning, when 



16 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

I went into service, I al'ys did my duty by my emplyers. I was 
a good wife as any in the county — never aggravated my husband. 
The cheese-factor used to say my cheese was aFys to be depended 
on. IVe known women, as their cheeses swelled a shame to be 
seen, when their husbands had counted on the cheese-money to 
make up their rent ; and yet they'd three gowns to my one. If 
I'm not to be saved, I know a many as are in a bad way. But 
it's well for me as I can't go to church any longer, for if th' old 
singers are to be done away with, there'll be nothing left as it 
was in Mr. Patten's time • and what's more, I hear you've 
settled to pull the church down and build it up new ? ' 

Now the fact was that the Rev. Amos Barton, on his last 
visit to Mrs. Patten, had urged her to enlarge her promised 
subscription of twenty pounds, representing to her that she was 
only a steward of her riches, and that she could not spend them 
more for the glory of Grod than by giving a heavy subscription 
^ t' towards the rebuilding of Shepperton Church — a practical precept 
which was not likely to smooth the way to her acceptance of his 
theological doctrine. Mr. Hackit, who had more doctrinal 
enlightenment than Mrs. Patten, had been a little shocked by the 
heathenism of her speech, and was glad of the new turn given to 
the subject by this question, addressed to him as churchwarden 
and an authority in all parochial matters. 

* Ah,' he answered, * the parson's bothered us into it at last, 
and we're to begin pulling down this spring. But we haven't got 
money enough yet. I was for waiting till we'd made up the 
sum, and, for my part, I think the congregation's fell off o' late ; 
though Mr. Barton says that's because there's been no room for 
the people when they've come. You see, the congregation g^t so 
large in Parry's time, the people stood in the aisles ; but there's 
never any crowd now, as I can see.' 

* Well,' said Mrs. Hackit, whose good-nature began to act now 
that it was a little in contradiction with the dominant tone of the 
conversation, '/ like Mr. Barton. I think he's a good sort o' 
man, for all he's not overburtheu'd i' th' upper storey ; and his 
wife's as nice a lady-like woman as I'd wish to see. How nice 
she keeps her children ! and little enough money to do't with ; 
and a delicate creatur' — six children, and another a-coming. I 
don't know how they make both ends meet, I'm sure, now her 
aunt has left 'em. But I sent 'em a cheese and a sack o' 
potatoes last week ; that's something towards filling the little 
mouths.' 

* Ah ! ' said Mr. Hackit, * and my wife makes Mr. Barton a 
good stiff glass o' brandy-and-water, when he comes in to supper 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 17 

after his cottage preaching. The parson likes it ; it puts a bit o' 
colour into his face, and makes him look a deal handsomer.' 

This allusion to brandy-and-water suggested to Miss Gibbs the 
introduction of the liquor decanters, now that the tea was cleared 
away ; for in bucolic society five-and-twenty years ago, the human 
animal of the male sex was understood to be perpetually athirst, 
and ' something to drink ' was as necessary a * condition of thought ' 
as Time and Space. 

* Now, that cottage preaching,' said Mr. Pilgrim, mixing 
himself a strong glass of * cold without,' * I was talking about it 
to our Parson Ely the other day, and he doesn't approve of it 
at all. He said it did as much harm as good to give a too 
familiar aspect to religious teaching. That was what Ely said — 
it does as much harm as good to give a too familiar aspect to 
religious teaching.' 

Mr. Pilgrim generally spoke with an intermittent kind of 
splutter ; indeed, one of his patients had observed that it was a 
pity such a clever man had a ' 'pediment ' in his speech. But 
when he came to what he conceived the pith of his argument or 
the point of his joke, he mouthed out his words with slow 
emphasis ; as a hen, when advertising her accouchement, passes 
at irregular intervals from pianissimo semiquavers to fortissimo 
crotchets. He thought this speech of Mr. Ely's particularly 
metaphysical and profound, and the more decisive of the question 
because it was a generality which represented no particulars to his 
mind. 

* Well, I don't know about that,' said Mrs. Hackit, who had 
always the courage of her opinion, *but I know, some of our 
labourers and stockingers as used never to come to church, come to 
the cottage, and that's better than never hearing anything good 
rrom week's end to week's end. And there's that Track Society 
as Mr. Barton has begun — I've seen more o' the poor people with 
going tracking, than all the time I've lived in the parish before. 
And there'd need be something done among 'em ; for the drinking 
at them Benefit Clubs is shameful. There's hardly a steady man 
or steady woman either, but what's a Dissenter.' 

During this speech of Mrs. Hackit's, Mr. Pilgrim had emitted 
a succession of little snorts, something like the treble grunts of a 
guinea-pig, which were always with him the sign of suppressed 
disapproval. But he never contradicted Mrs. Hackit — a woman 
whose * pot-luck ' was always to be relied on, and who on her side 
had unlimited reliance on bleeding, blistering, and draughts. 

Mrs. Patten, however, felt equal disapprobation, and had no 
reasons for suppressing it. 



18 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Well,' she remarked, ' I've beared of no good from interfering 
with one's neighbours, poor or rich. And I hate the sight o' 
women going about trapesing from house to house in all weathers, 
wet or dry, and coming in with their petticoats dagged and their 
shoes all over mud. Janet wanted to join in the tracking, but I 
told her I'd have nobody tracking out o' my house ; when I'm 
gone, she may do as she likes. I never dagged my petticoats in 
my life, and I've no opinion o' that sort o' religion.' 

' No,' said Mr. Hackit, who was fond of soothing the acerbities 
of the feminine mind with a jocose compliment, * you held your 
petticoats so high, to show your tight ankles : it isn't everybody 
as likes to show her ankles.' 

This joke met with general acceptance, even from the snubbed 
Janet, whose ankles were only tight in the sense of looking 
extremely squeezed by her boots. But Janet seemed always to 
identify herself with her aunt's personality, holding her own 
under protest. 

Under cover of thtf general laughter the gentlemen replenished 
their glasses, Mr. P'^grim attempting to give his the character of 
a stirrup-cup by observing that he *must be going.' Miss 
Gibbs seized this opportunity of telling Mrs. Hackit that she 
suspected Betty, the dairymaid, of frying the best bacon for the 
shepherd, when he sat up with her to * help brew ' ; whereupon 
Mrs. Hackit replied that she had always thought Betty false ; and 
Mrs. Patten said there was no bacon stolen when she was able to 
manage. Mr. Hackit, who often complained that he * never saw 
the like to women with their maids — he never had any trouble 
with his men,' avoided listening to this discussion, by raising the 
question of vetches with Mr. Pilgrim. The stream of conversation 
had thus diverged ; and no more was said about the Rev. Amos 
Barton, who is the main object of interest to us just now. So 
we may leave Cross Farm without waiting till Mrs. Hackit, 
resolutely donning her clogs and wrappings, renders it incumbent 
on Mr. Pilgrim also to fulfil his frequent threat of going. 



CHAPTER II 

It was happy for the Rev. Amos Barton that he did not, like us, 
overhear the conversation recorded in the last chapter. Indeed, 
what mortal is there of us, who would find his satisfaction 
enhanced by an opportunity of comparing the picture he presents 
to himself of his own doings, with the picture they make on the 
mental retina of his neighbours 1 We are poor plants buoyed up 
by the air-vessels of our own conceit : alas for us, if we get a few 
pinches that empty us of that windy self-subsistence ! The very 
capacity for good would go out of us. %or, tell the most 
impassioned orator, suddenly, that his wig is awry, or his shirt- 
lap hanging out, and that he is tickling people by the oddity of 
his person, instead of thrilling them by the energy of his periods, 
and you would infallibly dry up the spring of his eloquence. 
That is a deep and wide saying, that no miracle can be wrought 
^without faith — without the worker's faith in himself, as well as 
the recipient's faith in him. And the greater part of the 
worker's faith in himself is made up of the faith that others 
believe in him. 

Let me be persuaded that my neighbour Jenkins considers me 
a blockhead, and I shall never shine in conversation with him 
any more. Let me discover that the lovely Phoebe thinks my 
squint intolerable, and I shall never be able to fix her blandly 
with my disengaged eye again. 

Thank heaven, then, that a little illusion is left to us, to 
enable us to be useful and agreeable — that we don't know exactly 
what our friends think of us — that the world is not made of 
looking-glass, to show us just the figure we are making, and just 
what is going on behind our backs ! By the help of dear 
friendly illusion, we are able to dream that we are charming — 
and our faces wear a becoming air of self-possession ; we are able 
to dream that other men admire our talents— and our benignity 
is undisturbed ; we are able to dream that we are doing much 
good^ — and we do a little. 

19 



20 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Thus it was with Amos Barton on that very Thursday evening, 
when he was the subject of the conversation at Cross Farm. He 
had been dining at Mr. FarquharX the secondary squire of the 
parish, and, stimulated by unwonted gravies and port-wine, had 
been delivering his opinion on affairs parochial and extra-parochial 
with considerable animation. And he was now returning home 
in the moonlight — a little chill, it is true, for he had just now no 
greatcoat compatible with clerical dignity, and a fur boa round 
one's neck, with a waterproof cape over one's shoulders, doesn't 
frighten away the cold from one's legs ; but entirely unsuspicious, 
not only of Mr. Hackit's estimate of his oratorical powers, but 
also of the critical remarks passed on him by the Misses Farquhar 
as soon as the drawing-room door had closed behind him. Miss 
Julia had observed that she never heard any one sniff so frightfully 
as Mr. Barton did — she had a great mind to offer him her pocket- 
handkerchief; and Miss Arabella wondered why he always said 
he was going for to do a thing. He, excellent man ! was 
meditating fresh pastoral exertions on the morrow ; he would set 
on foot his lending library ; in which he had introduced some 
books that would be a pretty sharp blow to the Dissenters — one 
especially, purporting to be written by a working man, who, out 
of pure zeal for the welfare of his class, took the trouble to warn 
them in this way against those hypocritical thieves, the Dissenting 
preachers. The Rev. Amos Barton profoundly believed in the 
existence of that working man, and had thoughts of writing to 
him. Dissent, he considered, would have its head bruised in 
Shepperton, for did he not attack it in two ways ? He preached 
Low-Church doctrine — as evangelical as anything to be heard in 
the Independent Chapel ; and he made a High-Church assertion 
of ecclesiastical powers and functions. Clearly, the Dissenters 
would feel that * the parson ' was too many for them. Nothing 
like a man who combines shrewdness with energy. The wisdom 
of the serpent, Mr. Barton considered, was one of his strong 
points. 

Look at him as he winds through the little churchyard ! The 
silver light that falls aslant on church and tomb, enables you to 
see his slim black figure, made all the slimmer by tight pantaloons, 
as it flits past the pale gravestones. He walks with a quick step, 
and is now rapping with sharp decision at the vicarage door. It 
is opened without delay by the nurse, cook, and housemaid, all 
at once — that is to say, by the robust maid-of-all-work, Nanny; 
and as Mr. Barton hangs up his hat in the passage, you see that 
a narrow face of no particular complexion — even the small-pox 
that has attacked it seems to have been of a mongrel, indefinite 




Mrs. Amos Barton. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 23 



kind — with features of no particular shape, and an eye of no 
particular expression, is surmounted by a slope of bald Aps gently 
rising from brow to crown. You judge him, rightly, «be about 
forty. The house is quiet, for it is half-past ten, and toc children 
have long been gone to bed. He opens the sitting-room door, 
but instead of seeing his wife, as he expected, stitching with the 
nimblest of fingers by the light of one candle, he finds her dis- 
pensing with the light of a candle altogether. She is softly 
pacing up and down by the red firelight, holding in her arms 
little Walter, the year-old baby, who looks over her shoulder 
with large wide-open eyes, while the patient mother pats his 
back with her soft hand, and glances with a sigh at the heap of 
large and small stockings lying unmended on the table. 

She was a lovely women — Mrs. Amos Barton ; a large, fair, 
gentle Madonna, with thick, close, chestnut curls beside her well- 
rounded cheeks, and with large, tender, short-sighted eyes. The 
flowing lines of her tall figure made the limpest dress look grace- 
ful, and her old frayed black silk seemed to repose on her bust 
and limbs with a placid elegance and sense of distinction, in 
strong contrast with the uneasy sense of being no fit, that seemed 
to express itself in the rustling of Mrs. Farquhar's gros de Naples. 
The caps she wore would have been pronounced, when off" her 
head, utterly heavy and hideous — for* in those days even fashion- 
able caps were large and floppy ; but surmounting her long arched 
neck, and mingling their borders of cheap lace and ribbon with 
her chestnut curls, they seemed miracles of successful millinery. 
Among strangers she was shy and tremulous as a girl of fifteen ; 
she blushed crimson if any one appealed to her opinion ; yet 
that tall, graceful, substantial presence was so imposing in its 
mildness, that men spoke to her with an agreeable sensation of 
timidity. 

Soothing, unspeakable charm of gentle womanhood ! which 
supersedes all acquisitions, all accomplishments. You would 
never have asked, at any period of Mrs. Amos Barton's life, if 
she sketched or played the piano. You would even perhaps have 
been rather scandalised if she had descended from the serene 
dignity of being to the assiduous unrest of doing. Happy the 
man, you would have thought, whose eye will rest on her in the 
pauses of his fireside reading — whose hot aching forehead will be 
soothed by the contact of her cool soft hand — who will recover 
himself from dejection at hig mistakes and failures in the loving 
light of her unreproaching eyes ! You would not, perhaps, have 
anticipated that this bliss would fall to the share of precisely such 
a man as Amos Barton, whom you have already surmised not to 



24 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

have the^i^ed sensibilities for which you might have imagined 
Mrs. B^KS^qualities to be destined by pre-established harmony. 
But I, nBDaH, do not grudge Amos Barton this sweet wife. I 
have all my life had a sympathy for mongrel ungainly dogs, who 
are nobody^s pets ; and I would rather surprise one of them by a 
pat and a pleasant morsel, than meet the condescending advances 
of the loveliest Skye-terrier who has his cushion by my lady's 
chair. That, to be sure, is not the way of the world : if it 
happens to see a fellow of fine proportions and aristocratic mien, 
who make? no faux pas, and wins golden opinions from all sorts 
of men, it straightway picks out for him the loveliest of unmarried 
women, and says, Tliere would be a proper match ! Not at all, 
say I : let that successful, well-shapen, discreet, and able gentle- 
man put up with something less than the best in the matrimonial 
department ;^d let the sweet woman go to make sunshine and a 
soft pillow kIt the poor devil whose legs are not models, whose 
. efforts are often blunders, and who in general gets more kicks than 
\ halfpence. She — the sweet woman — will like it as well ; for her 
sublime capacity of loving will have all the more scope ; and I 
venture to say, Mrs. Barton's nature would never have gi*own 
half so angelic if she had married the man you would perhaps 
have had in your eye for her — a man with sufficient income 
and abundant personal eclat. Besides, Amos was an affectionate 
husband, and, in his way, valued his wife as his best treasure. 

But now he has shut the door behind him, and said, 'Well, 
Milly ! ' 

* Well, dear ! ' was the corresponding greeting, made eloquent 
by a smile. 

* So that young rascal won't go to sleep ! Can't you give him 
to Nanny ? ' 

* Why, Nanny has been busy ironing this evening ; but I 
think I'll take him to her now." And Mrs. Barton glided 
towards the kitchen, while her husband ran upstairs to put on 
his maize -coloured dressing-gown, in which costume he was 
quietly filling his long pipe when his wife returned to the sitting- 
room. V Maize is a colour that decidedly did not suit his com- 
plexion, and it is one that soon soils ; why, then, did Mr. Barton 
select it for domestic wear 1 Perhaps because he had a knack of 
hitting on the wrong thing in garb as well as in grammar. 

Mrs. Barton now lighted her candle, and seated herself before 
her heap of stockings. She had something disagreeable to tell 
her husband, but she would not enter on it at once. 

* Have you had a nice evening, dear ? ' 

' Yes, pretty well. Ely was there to dinner, but went away 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 25 

rather eatly. Miss Arabella is setting her cap at him with a 
vengeance. But I don't think he's much smitten. IVe^ notion 
Ely's engaged to some one at a distance, and will astonish all the 
ladies who are languishing for him here, by bringing home his 
bride one of these days. Ely's a sly dog ; he'll like that.' 

' Did the Farquhars say anything about the singing last 
Sunday r 

* Yes ; Farquhar said he thought it was time there was some 
improvement in the choir. But he was rather scandalised at my 
setting the tune of " Lydia." He says he's always hearing it as 
he passes the Independent meeting.' ( Here Mr. Barton laughed 
— he had a way of laughing at criticisms that other people 
thought damaging — and thereby showed the remainder of a set of 
teeth which, like the remnants of the Old Guard, were few in 
number, and very much the worse for wear.^ * But, ''he continued, 
* Mrs. Farquhar talked the most about Mr. Bridmain and the 
Countess. She has taken up all the gossip about them, and 
wanted to convert me to her opinion, but I told her pretty 
strongly what I thought.' 

* Dear me ! why will people take so much pains to find out 
evil about others 1 I have had a note from the Countess since 
you went, asking us to dine with them on Friday.' 

Here Mrs. Barton reached the note from the mantelpiece, and 
gave it to her husband. We will look over his shoulder while he 
reads it : — 

' Sweetest Milly — Bring your lovely face with your 
husband to dine with us on Friday at seven — do. If not, I will 
be sulky with you till Sunday, when I shall be obliged to see 
you, and shall long to kiss you that very moment. — Yours, 
according to your answer, Caroline Czerlaski,' 

* Just like her, isn't it ? ' said Mrs. Barton. * I suppose we 
can go 1 ' 

*Yes; I have no engagement. The Clerical Meeting is to- 
morrow, you know.' 

* And, dear. Woods the butcher called, to say he must have 
some money next week. He has a payment to make up.' 

This announcement made Mr. Barton thoughtful. He puffed 
more rapidly, and looked at the fire. 

* I think I must ask Hackit to lend me twenty pounds, for it 
is nearly two months till Lady-day, and we can't give Woods our 
last shilling.' 

' I hardly like you to ask Mr. Hackit, dear — he and Mrs. 



26 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Hackit have been so very kind to us ; they have sent us so many 
things lately.' 

* Then I-^nust ask Oldinport. I'm going to write to him to- 
morrow morning, for to tell him the arrangement I've been think- 
ing of about having service in the workhouse while the church 
is being enlarged. If he agrees to attend service there once or 
twice, the other people will come. Net the large fish, and you're 
sure to have the small fry.' 

* I wish we could do without borrowing money, and yet I 
don't see how we can. Poor Fred must have some new shoes ; I 
couldn't let him go to Mrs. Bond's yesterday because his toes 
were peeping out, dear child ! and I can't let him walk anywhere 
except in the garden. He must have a pair before Sunday. 
Really, boots and shoes are the greatest trouble of my life. 
Everything else one can turn and turn about, and make old look 
like new \ but there's no coaxing boots and shoes to look better 
than they are.' 

Mrs. Barton was playfully undervaluing her skill in meta- 
morphosing boots and shoes. She had at that moment on her 
feet a pair of slippers which had long ago lived through the 
prunella phase of their existence, and were now running a 
respectable career as black silk slippers, having been neatly 
covered with that material by Mrs. Barton's own neat fingers. 
Wonderful fingers those ! they were never empty ; for if she 
went to spend a few hours with a friendly parishioner, out came 
her thimble and a piece of calico or muslin, which, before she 
left, had become a mysterious little garment with all sorts of 
hemmed ins and outs. She was even trying to persuade her 
husband to leave off tight pantaloons, because if he would wear 
the ordinary gun-cases, she knew she could make them so well 
that no one would suspect the sex of the tailor. 

But by this time Mr. Barton has finished his pipe, the candle 
begins to burn low, and Mrs. Barton goes to see if Nanny has 
succeeded in lulling Walter to sleep. Nanny is that moment 
putting him in the little cot by his mother's bedside ; the head, 
with its thin wavelets of brown hair, indents the little pillow ; 
and a tiny, waxen, dimpled fist hides the rosy lips, for baby is 
given to the infantine peccadillo of thumb-sucking. 

So Nanny could now join in the short evening prayer, and all 
could go to bed. 

Mrs. Barton carried upstairs the remainder of her heap of 
stockings, and laid them on a table close to her bedside, where 
also she placed a warm shawl, removing her candle, before she 
put it out, to a tin socket fixed at the head of her bed. Her 




t • • 



Busy cutting bread-and-butter. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 29 

body was very weary, but her heart was not heavy, in spite of 
Mr. Woods the butcher, and the transitory nature of shoe-leather ; 
for her heart so overflowed with love, she felt sure she was near a 
fountain of love that would care for husband and babes better than 
she could foresee ; so she was soon asleep. But about half-past 
five o'clock in the morning, if there were any angels watching 
round her bed — and angels might be glad of such an office — they 
saw Mrs. Barton rise up quietly, careful not to disturb the 
slumbering Amos, who was snoring the snore of the just, light her 
candle, prop herself upright with the pillows, throw the warm 
shawl round her shoulders, and renew her attack on the heap of 
undarned stockings. She darned away until she heard Nanny 
stirring, and then drowsiness came with the dawn ; the candle 
was put out, and she sank into a doze. But at nine o'clock she 
was at the breakfast-table, busy cutting bread-and-butter for five 
hungry mouths, while Nanny, baby on one arm, in rosy cheeks, 
fat neck, and night-gown, brought in a jug of hot milk-and-water. 
Nearest her mother sits the nine-year-old Patty, the eldest child, 
whose sweet fair face is already rather grave sometimes, and who 
always wants to run upstairs to save mamma's legs, which get so 
tired of an evening. Then there are four other blond heads — two 
boys and two girls, gradually decreasing in size down to Chubby, 
who is making a round of her mouth to receive a bit of papa's 

* baton.' Papa's attention was divided between petting Chubby, 
rebuking the noisy Fred, which he did with a somewhat excessive 
sharpness, and eating his own breakfast. He had not yet looked 
at Mamma, and did not know that her cheek was paler than 
usual. But Patty whispered, * Mamma, have you the headache 1 ' 

Happily coal was cheap in the neighbourhood of Shepperton, 
and Mr. Hackit would any time let his horses draw a load for 

* the parson ' without charge ; so there was a blazing fire in the 
sitting-room, and not without need, for the vicarage garden, as 
they looked out on it from the bow-window, was hard with 
black frost, and the sky had the white woolly look that portends 
snow. 

Breakfast over, Mr. Barton mounted to his study, and 
occupied himself in the first place with his letter to Mr. Oldinport. 
It was very much the same sort of letter as most clergymen 
would have written under the same circumstances, except that 
instead of /Perambulate, the Rev. Amos wrote preamhulate, and 
instead of * if haply,' ' if happily,' the contingency indicated being 
the reverse of happy. Mr. Barton had not the gift of perfect 
accuracy in English orthography and syntax, which was un- 
fortunate, as he was known not to be a Hebrew scholar, and not 



30 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

in' the least suspected of being an accomplished Grecian. These 
lapses, in a man who had gone through the Eleusinian mysteries 
of a university education, surprised the young ladies of his parish 
extremely ; especially the Misses Farqiihar, whom he had once 
addressed in a letter as Dear Mads., apparently an abbreviation 
for Madams. The persons least surprised at the Rev. Ames's 
deficiencies were his clerical brethren, who had gone through the 
mysteries themselves. 

At eleven o'clock, Mr. Barton walked forth in cape and boa, 
with the sleet driving in his face, to read prayers at the work- 
house, euphuistically called the * College.' The College was a 
huge square stone building, standing on the best apology for an 
elevation of ground that could be seen for about ten miles round 
Shepperton. A flat ugly district this ; depressing enough to look 
at even on the brightest days. The roads are black with coal- 
dust, the brick houses dingy with smoke ; and at that time — the 
time of handloom weavers— every other cottage had a loom at its 
window, where you might see a pale, sickly-looking man or woman 
pressing a narrow chest against a board, and doing a sort of 
treadmill work with legs and arms. A troublesome district for a 
clergyman ; at least to one who, like Amos Barton, understood 
the ' cure of souls ' in something more than an oflicial sense ; for 
over and above the rustic stupidity furnished by the farm- 
labourers, the miners brought obstreperous animalism, and the 
weavers an acrid Radicalism and Dissent. Indeed, Mrs. Hackit 
often observed that the colliers, who many of them earned better 
wages than Mr. Barton, * passed their time in doing nothing but 
swilling ale and smoking, like the beasts that perish ' (speaking, 
we may presume, in a remotely analogical sense) ; and in some of 
the ale-house corners the drink was flavoured by a dingy kind of 
infidelity, something like rinsings of Tom Paine in ditch-water. 
A certain amount of religious excitement created by the popular 
preaching of Mr. Parry, Amos's predecessor, had nearly died out, 
and the religious life of Shepperton was falling back towards 
low-water mark. Here, you perceive, was a terrible stronghold 
of Satan ; and you may well pity the Rev. Amos Barton, who 
had to stand single-handed and summon it to surrender. We 
read, indeed, that the walls of Jericho fell down before the sound 
of trumpets ; but we nowhere hear that those trumpets were 
hoarse and feeble. Doubtless they were trumpets that gave 
forth clear ringing tones, and sent a mighty vibration through 
brick and mortar. But the oratory of the Rev. Amos resembled 
rather a Belgian railway-horn, which shows praiseworthy intentions 
inadequately fulfilled. He often missed the right note both in 



THE SAD FORTUNES .0/ THE ,BEV. AMOS BARTON 31 

public and private exhortation, and got a little angry in con- 
sequence. For though Amos thought himself strong, he did not 
feel himself strong. Nature had given him the opinion, but not 
the sensation. Without that opinion he would probably never 
have worn cambric bands, but would have been an excellent 
cabinetmaker and deacon of an Independent church, as his father 
was before him (he .was not a shoemaker, as Mr. Pilgrim had 
reported). He might then have sniffed long and loud in the 
corner of his pew in Gun- Street Chapel ; he might have indulged 
in halting rhetoric at prayer-meetings, and have spoken faulty 
English in private life;*. and these little infirmities would not 
have prevented /him, honest faithful man that he was, from being 
a shining lights in {te Dissenting circle of Bridgeport. A tallow 
dip, of the long-eight description, is an excellent thing in the 
kitchen candlestick, and Betty's nose and eye are not sensitive to 
the difference between it and the finest wax ; it is only when you 
stick it in the silver candlestick, and introduce it into the 
drawing-room, that it seems plebeian, dim, and ineft'ectual. Alas 
for the worthy man who, like that candle, gets himself into the 
wrong place ! It is only the very largest souls who will be able 
to appreciate and pity him — who will discern and love sincerity 
of purpose amid all the bungling feebleness of achievement. 

But now Amos Barton has made his way through the sleet as 
far as the College, has thrown off his hat, cape, and boa, and is 
reading, in the dreary stone-floored dining-room, a portion of the 
morning service to the inmates seated on the benches before him. 
Remember, the New Poor-law had not yet come into operation, 
and Mr. Barton was not acting as paid chaplain of the Union, 
but as the pastor who had the cure of all souls in his parish, 
pauper as well as other. After the prayers he always addressed 
to them a short discourse on some subject suggested by the lesson 
for the day, striving if by this means some edifying matter might 
find its way into the pauper mind and conscience — perhaps a 
task as trying as you could well imagine to the faith and 
patience of any honest clergyman. For, on the very first bench, 
these were the faces on which his eye had to rest, watching 
whether there was any stirring under the stagnant surface. 

Right in front of him — probably because he was stone-deaf, 
and it was deemed more edifying to hear nothing at a short 
distance than at a long one — sat * Old Maxum,' as he was 
familiarly called, his real patronymic remaining a mystery to 
most persons. A fine philological sense discerns in this cognomen 
an indication that the pauper patriarch had once been considered 
pithy and sententious in his speech ; but now the weight of 



32 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

ninety-five years lay heavy on his tongue as well as on his ears, 
and he sat before the clergyman with protruded chin, and 
munching mouth, and eyes that seemed to look at emptiness. 

Next to him sat Poll Fodge — known to the magistracy of her 
county as Mary Higgins — a one-eyed woman, with a scarred and 
seamy face, the most notorious rebel in the workhouse, said to 
'have once thrown her broth over the master's coat-tails, and who, 
in spite of nature's apparent safeguards against that contingency, 
had contributed to the perpetuation of the Fodge characteristics 
in the person of a small boy, who was behaving naughtily on one 
of the back benches. Miss Fodge fixed her one sore eye on Mr. 
Barton with a sort of hardy defiance. 

• Beyond this member of the softer sex, at the end of the bench, 
gat * Silly Jim,' a young man afflicted with hydrocephalus, who 
rolled his head from side to side, and gazed at the point of his 
nose. These were the supporters of Old Maxum on his right. 

On his left sat Mr. Fitchett, a tall fellow, who had once been 
a footman in the Oldinport family, and in that giddy elevation 
had enunciated a contemptuous opinion of boiled beef, which had 
been traditionally handed down in Shepperton as the direct cause 
of his ultimate reduction to pauper commons. His calves were 
now shrunken, and his hair was grey without the aid of powder ; 
but he still carried his chin as if he were conscious of a stiff 
cravat ; he set his dilapidated hat on with a knowing inclination 
towards the left ear ; and when he was on fieldwork, he carted 
^and uncarted the manure with a sort of flunkey grace, the ghost 
of that jaunty demeanour with which he used to usher in my 
lady's morning visitors. The flunkey nature was nowhere com- 
*pletely subdued but in his stomach, and he still divided society 
into gently, gentry's flunkeys, and the people who provided for 
* them. A clergyman without a flunkey was an anomaly, belonging 
to neither of these classes. Mr. Fitchett had an irrepressible 
'tendency to drowsiness under spiritual instruction, and in the 
recurrent regularity with which he dozed oft* until he nodded and 
'awaked himself, he looked not unlike a piece of mechanism ingeni- 
ously contrived for measuring the length of Mr. Barton's discourse. 

Perfectly wide-awake, on the contrary, was his left-hand 
neighbour, Mrs. Brick, one of those hard undying old women, 
'to whom age seems to have given a network of wrinkles, as a 
coat of magic armour against the attacks of winters, warm or 

* cold. The point on which Mrs. Brick was still sensitive — the 
theme on which you might possibly excite her hope and fear — 

* was snuff. It seemed to be an embalming powder, helping her 
soul to do the office of salt. 




'OldMaxmu; Mr. Fitchett, and Mrs. Brick. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 35 

And now, eke out an audience of which this front benchful 
was a sample, with a certain number of refractory children, over 
whom Mr. Spratt, the master of the workhouse, exercised an 
irate surveillance, and I think you will admit that the university- 
taught clergyman, whose office it is to bring home the gospel to 
a handful of such souls, has a sufficiently hard task. For, to 
have any chance of success, short of miraculous intervention, he 
must bring his geographical, chronological, exegetical mind pretty 
nearly to the pauper point of view, or of no view ; he must have 
some approximate conception of the mode in which the doctrines 
that have so much vitality in the plenum of his own brain will 
comport themselves in vacuo — that is to say, in a brain that is 
neither geographical, chronological, nor exegetical. It is a flexible 
imagination that can take such a leap as that, and an adroit 
tongue that can adapt its speech to so unfamiliar a position. 
The Rev. Amos Barton had neither that flexible imagination, nor 
that adroit tongue. He talked of Israel and its sins, of chosen 
vessels, of the Paschal lamb, of blood as a medium of reconciliation ; 
and he strove in this way to convey religious truth within reach 
of the Fodge and Fitchett mind. This very morning, the first 
lesson was the twelfth chapter of Exodus, and Mr. Barton's 
exposition turned on unleavened bread. Nothing in the world 
more suited to the simple understanding than instruction through 
familiar types and symbols ! But there is always this danger 
attending it, that the interest or comprehension of your hearers 
may stop short precisely at the point where your spiritual 
interpretation begins. And Mr. Barton this morning succeeded 
in carrying the pauper imagination to the dough-tub, but un- 
fortunately was not able to carry it upwards from that well- 
known object to the unknown truths which it was intended to 
shadow forth. 

Alas ! a natural incapacity for teaching, finished by keeping 
* terms' at Cambridge, where there are able mathematicians, 
and butter is sold by the yard, is not apparently the medium 
through which Christian doctrine will distil as welcome dew on 
withered souls. 

And so, while the sleet outside was turning to unquestionable 
snow, and the stony dining-room looked darker and drearier, and 
Mr. Fitchett was nodding his lowest, and Mr. Spratt was boxing 
the boys' ears with a constant rinfm-zando, as he felt more keenly 
the approach of dinner-time, Mr. Barton wound up his exhortation 
with something of the February chill at his heart as well as his 
feet. Mr. Fitchett, thoroughly roused now the instruction was 
at an end, obsequiously and gracefully advanced to help Mr. 



36 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Barton in putting on his cape, while Mrs. Brick rubbed her 
withered forefinger round and round her little shoe-shaped snuff- 
box, vainly seeking for the fraction of a pinch. I can't help 
thinking that if Mr. Barton had shaken into that little box a 
small portion of Scotch high -dried, he might have produced 
something more like an amiable emotion in Mrs. Brick's mind 
than anything she had felt under his morning's exposition of the 
unleavened bread. But our good Amos laboured under a 
deficiency of small tact as well as of small cash ; and when he 
observed the action of the old woman's forefinger, he said, in his 
brusque way, * So your snuff is all gone, eh 1 ' 

Mrs. Brick's eyes twinkled with the visionary hope that the 
parson might be intending to replenish her box, at least mediately, 
through the present of a small copper. 

* Ah, well ! you'll soon be going where there is no more snuff. 
You'll be in need of mercy then. You must remember that you 
may have to seek for mercy and not find it, just as you're seeking 
for snuff.' 

At the first sentence of this admonition, the twinkle subsided 
from Mrs. Brick's eyes. The lid of her box went * click ! ' and 
her heart was shut up at the same moment. 

But now Mr. Barton's attention was called for by Mr. Spratt, 
who was dragging a small and unwilling boy from the rear. Mr. 
Spratt was a small-featured, small-statured man, with a remark- 
able power of language, mitigated by hesitation, who piqued him- 
self on expressing unexceptionable sentiments in unexceptionable 
language on all occasions. 

*Mr. Barton, sir — aw — aw — excuse my trespassing on your 
time — aw — to beg that you will administer a rebuke to this boy ; 
he is — aw — aw — most inveterate in ill-behaviour during service- 
time.' 

The inveterate culprit was a boy of seven, vainly contending 
against a cold in his nose by feeble sniffing. But no sooner had 
Mr. Spratt uttered his impeachment, than Miss Fodge rushed 
forward and placed herself between Mr. Barton and the accused. 

* That's my child, Muster Barton,' she exclaimed, further 
manifesting her maternal instincts by applying her apron to her 
offspring's nose. * He's al'ys a-findin' faut wi' him, and a-poundin' 
him for nothin'. Let him goo an' eat his roost goose as is 
a-smellin' up in our noses while we're a-swallering them greasy 
broth, an' let my boy alooan.' 

Mr. Spratt's small eyes flashed, and he was in danger of 
uttering sentiments not unexceptionable before the clergyman ; 
but Mr. Barton, foreseeing that a prolongation of this episode 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 37 

would not be to edification, said * Silence ! " in his severest 
tones. 

' Let me hear no abuse. Your boy is not likely to behave 
well, if you set him the example of being saucy.' Then stooping 
down to Master Fodge, and taking him by the shoulder, * Do you 
like being beaten 1 ' 

'No-a.' 

* Then what a silly boy you are to be naughty. If you were 
not naughty, you wouldn't be beaten. But if you are naughty, 
God will be angry, as well as Mr. Spratt ; and God can burn you 
for ever. That will be worse than being beaten.' 

Master Fodge's countenance was neither affirmative nor 
negative of this proposition. 

^ But,' continued Mr. Barton, ' if you will be a good boy, God 
will love you, and you will grow up to be a good man. Now, 
let me hear next Thursday that you have been a good boy.' 

Master Fodge had no distinct vision of the benefit that would 
accrue to him from this change of courses. But Mr. Barton, 
being aware that Miss Fodge had touched on a delicate subject in 
alluding to the roast goose, was determined to witness no more 
polemics between her and Mr. Spratt, so, saying good morning to 
the latter, he hastily left the College. 

The snow was falling in thicker and thicker flakes, and 
already the vicarage-garden was cloaked in white as he passed 
through the gate. Mrs. Barton heard him open the door, and 
ran out of the sitting-room to meet him. 

* I'm afraid your feet are very wet, dear. What a terrible 
morning ! Let me take your hat. Your slippers are at the fire.' 

Mr. Barton was feeling a little cold and cross. It is difficult, 
when you have been doing disagreeable duties, without praise, on 
a snowy day, to attend to the very minor morals. So he showed 
no recognition of Milly's attentions, but simply said, * Fetch me 
my dressing-gown, will you ? ' 

* It ^s down, dear. I thought you wouldn't go into the study, 
because you said you would letter and number the books for the 
Lending Library. Patty and I have been covering them, and 
they are all ready in the sitting-room.' 

* Oh, I can't do those this morning,' said Mr. Barton, as he 
took off his boots and put his feet into the slippers Milly had 
brought him ; * you must put them away into the parlour.' 

The sitting-room was also the day nursery and schoolroom ; 
and while Mamma's back was turned, Dickey, the second boy, 
had insisted on superseding Chubby in the guidance of a headless 
horse, of the red-wafered species, which she was drawing round 



38 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the room, so that when Papa opened the door Chubby was giving 
tongue energetically. 

*Milly, some of these children must go away. I want to 
be quiet.* 

* Yes, dear. Hush, Chubby ; go with Patty, and see what 
Nanny is getting for our dinner. Now, Fred and Sophy and 
Dickey, help me to carry these books into the parlour. There 
are three for Dickey. Carry them steadily.' 

Papa meanwhile settled himself in his easy-chair, and took up 
a work on Episcopacy, which he had from the Clerical Book 
Society ; thinking he would finish it and return it tl^is afternoon, 
as he was going to the Clerical Meeting at Milby Vicarage, where 
the Book Society had its headquarters. 

The Clerical Meetings and Book Society, which had been 
founded some eight or ten months, had had a noticeable effect on 
the Rev. Amos Barton. When he first came to Shepperton he 
was simply an evangelical clergyman, whose Christian experiences 
had commenced under the teaching of the Rev. Mr. Johns, of 
Gun Street Chapel, and had been consolidated at Cambridge 
under the influence of Mr. Simeon. John Newton and Thomas 
Scott were his doctrinal ideals ; he would have taken in the 
Christian Oh&ei'ver and the Record, if he could have afforded 
it ; his anecdotes were chiefly of the pious-jocose kind, current 
in Dissenting circles ; and he thought an Episcopalian Establish- 
ment unobj ectionable. 

But by this time the effect of the Tractarian agitation was 
beginning to be felt in backward provincial regions, and the 
Tractarian satire on the Low-Church party was beginning to tell 
even on those who disavowed of resisted Tractarian doctrines. 
The vibration of an intellectual movement was felt from the 
golden head to the miry toes of the Establishment ;" and so it 
came to pass that, in the district round Milby, the market- 
town close to Shepperton, the clergy had agreed to have a clerical 
meeting every month wherein they would exercise their intellects 
by discussing theological and ecclesiastical questions, and cement 
their brotherly love by discussing a good dinner. A Book 
Society naturally suggested itself as an adjunct of this agreeable 
plan ; and thus, you perceive, there was provision made for ample 
friction of the clerical mind. 

Now, the Rev. Amos Barton was one of those men who have 
a decided will and opinion of their own ; he held himself bolt 
upright, and had no self-distrust. He would march very 
determinedly along the road he thought best ; but then it was 
wonderfully easy to convince him which was the best road. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 39 

And so a very little unwonted reading and unwonted discussion 
made him see that an Episcopalian Establishment was much 
more than unobjectionable, and on many other points he began 
to feel that he held opinions a little too far-sighted and profound 
to be crudely and suddenly communicated to ordinary minds. 
riLe was like an onion that has been rubbed with spices : the 
' strong original odour was blended with something new and 
foreign. The Low-Church onion still offended refined High- 
Church nostrils, and the new spice was unwelcome to the palate 
of the genuine onion-eater. 

We will not accompany him to the Clerical Meeting to-day, 
because we shall probably want to go thither some day when 
he will be absent. And just now I am bent on introducing 
you to Mr. Bridmain and the Countess Czerlaski, with whom 
Mr. and Mrs. Barton are invited to dine to-morrow. 



CHAPTER III 

Outside, the moon is shedding its cold light on the cold snow, 
and the white -bearded fir trees round Camp Villa are casting a 
blue shadow across the white ground, while the Rev. Amos 
Barton and his wife are audibly crushing the crisp snow beneath 
their feet, as, about seven o'clock on Friday evening, they 
approach the door of the above-named desirable country residence, 
containing dining, breakfast, and drawing rooms, etc., situated 
only half a mile from the market-town of Milby. 

Inside, there is a bright fire in the drawing-room, casting a 
pleasant but uncertain light on the delicate silk dress of a lady 
who is reclining behind a screen in the corner of the sofa, and 
allowing you to discern that the hair of the gentleman who is 
seated in the arm-chair opposite, with a newspaper over his 
knees, is becoming decidedly grey. A little * King Charles,' with 
a crimson ribbon round his neck, who has been lying curled up 
in the very middle of the hearth-rug, has just discovered that 
that zone is too hot for him, and is jumping on the sofa, 
evidently with the intention of accommodating his person on the 
silk gown. On the table there are two wax-candles, which will 
be lighted as soon as the expected knock is heard at the door. 

The knock is heard, the candles are lighted, and presently 
Mr. and Mrs. Barton are ushered in — Mr. Barton erect and 
clerical, in a faultless tie and shining cranium ; Mrs. Barton 
graceful in a newly turned black silk. 

* Now this is charming of you,' said the Countess Czerlaski, 
advancing to meet them, and embracing Milly with careful 
elegance. * I am really ashamed of my selfishness in asking my 
friends to come and see me in this frightful weather.' Then, 
giving her hand to Amos, * And you, Mr. Barton, whose time is 
so precious ! But I am doing a good deed in drawing you away 
from your labours. I have a plot to prevent you from martyris- 
ing yourself.' 

While this greeting was going forward, Mr. Bridmain, and Jet 
the spaniel, looked on with the air of actors who had no idea of 

40 




^/ic two women on tfie s^/a : Milly and the Countess. 



• : • : • 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 43 

by-play. Mr. Bridmain, a stiff and rather thick-set man, gave 
his welcome with a laboured cordiality. It was astonishing how 
very little he resembled his beautiful sister. 

For the Countess Czerlaski was undeniably beautiful. As she 
seated herself by Mrs. Barton on the sofa, Milly's eyes, indeed, 
rested — must it be confessed? — chiefly on the details of the 
tasteful dress, the rich silk of a pinkish lilac hue (the Countess 
always wore delicate colours in an evening), the black lace pelerine, 
and the black lace veil falling at the back of the small closely 
braided head. For Milly had one weakness — don't love her any 
the less for it, it was a pretty woman's weakness — she was 
fond of dress ; and often, when she was making up her own 
economical millinery, she had romantic visions how nice it would 
be to put on really handsome stylish things — to have very stiff 
balloon sleeves, for example, without which a woman's dress was 
nought in those days. You and I, too, reader, have our weakness, 
have we not 1 which makes us think foolish things now and then. 
Perhaps it may lie in an excessive admiration for small hands 
and feet, a tall lithe figure, large dark eyes, and dark silken 
braided hair. All these the Countess possessed, and she had, 
moreover, a delicately formed nose, the least bit curved, and a clear 
brunette complexion. Her mouth, it must be admitted, receded too 
much from her nose and chin, and to a prophetic eye threatened 
* nut-crackers ' in advanced age. But by the light of fire and 
wax-candles that age seemed very far off indeed, and you would 
have said that the Countess was not more than thirty. 

Look at the two wom'en on the sofa together ! The large, 
fair, mild-eyed Milly is timid even in friendship : it is not easy 
to her to speak of the affection of which her heart is full. The 
lithe, dark, thin-lipped Countess is racking her small brain for 
caressing words and charming exaggerations. 

*And how are all the cherubs at home?' said the Countess, 
stooping to pick up Jet, and without waiting for an answer. * T 
have been kept indoors by a cold ever since Sunday, or I should 
not have rested without seeing you. What have you done with 
those wretched singers, Mr. Barton ? ' 

* Oh, we have got a new choir together, which will go on very 
well with a little practice. I was quite determined that the old 
set of singers should be dismissed. I had given orders that they 
should not sing the wedding psalm, as they call it, again, to 
make a new-married couple look ridiculous, and they sang it in 
defiance of me. I could put them into the Ecclesiastical Court, 
if I chose for to do so, for lifting up their voices in church in 
opposition to the clergyman.' 



44 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

*And a most wholesome discipline that would be,' said the 
Countess ; * indeed, you are too patient and forbearing, Mr. 
Barton. For my part, / lose my temper when I see how far 
you are from being appreciated in that miserable Shepperton.' 

If, as is probable, Mr. Barton felt at a loss what to 'say in 
reply to the insinuated compliment, it was a relief to him that 
dinner was announced just then, and that he had to offer his arm 
to the Countess. 

As Mr. Bridmain was leading Mrs. Barton to the dining- 
room, he observed, * The weather is very severe.' 
* Very, indeed,' said Milly. 

Mr. Bridmain studied conversation as an art. To ladies he 
spoke of the weather, and was accustomed to consider it under 
three points of view : as a question of climate in general, 
comparing England with other countries in this respect ; as a 
personal question, inquiring how it affected his lady interlocutor 
in particular; and as a question of probabilities, discussing 
whether there would be a change or a continuance of the present 
atmospheric conditions. To gentlemen he talked politics, and he 
read two daily papers expressly to qualify himself for this function. 
Mr. Barton thought him a man of considerable political informa- 
tion, but not of lively parts. 

* And so you are always to hold your Clerical Meetings at Mr. 
Ely's ! ' said the Countess, between her spoonfuls of soup. (The 
soup was a little over-spiced. Mrs. Short of Camp Villa, who 
was in the habit of letting her best apartments, gave only 
moderate wages to her cook.) 

* Yes,' said Mr. Barton ; * Milby is a central place, and there 
are many conveniences in having only one point of meeting.' 

* Well,' continued the Countess, * every one seems to agree in 
giving the precedence to Mr. Ely. For my part, I cannot 
admire him. His preaching is too cold for me. It has no 
fervour — no heart. I often say to my brother, it is a great 
comfort to me that Shepperton Church is not too far off for us to 
go to ; don't I, Edmund ? ' 

* Yes,' answered Mr. Bridmain ; * they show us into such a bad 
pew at Milby — just where there is a draught from that door. I 
caught a stiff neck the first time I went there.' 

* Oh, it is the cold in the pulpit that affects me, not the cold 
in the pew. I was writing to iny friend Lady Porter this morning, 
and telling her all about my feelings. She and I think alike on 
such matters. She is most anxious that when Sir William has 
an opportunity of giving away the living at their place, Dippley, 
they should have a thoroughly zealous, clever man there. I 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 45 

have been describing a certain friend of mine to her, who, I 
think, would be just to her mind. And there is such a pretty 
rectory, Milly ; shouldn't I like to see you the mistress of it ? ' 

Milly smiled and blushed slightly. The Rev. Amos blushed 
very red, and gave a little embarrassed laugh — he could rarely 
keep his muscles within the limits of a smile. 

At this moment John, the man-servant, approached Mrs. 
Barton with a gravy-tureen, and also with a slight odour of the 
stable, which usually adhered to him throughout his indoor 
functions. John was rather nervous ; and the Countess, happening 
to speak to him at this inopportune moment, the tureen slipped 
and emptied itself on Mrs. Barton's newly turned black silk. 

* Oh, horror ! Tell Alice to come directly and rub Mrs. 
Barton's dress,' said the Countess to the trembling John, carefully 
abstaining from approaching the gravy-sprinkled spot on the floor 
with her own lilac silk. But Mr. Bridmain, who had a strictly 
private interest in silks, good-naturedly jumped up and applied 
his napkin at once to Mrs. Barton's gown. 

Milly felt a little inward anguish, but no ill-temper, and tried 
to make light of the matter for the sake of John as well as others. 
The Countess felt inwardly thankful that her own delicate silk 
had escaped, but threw out lavish interjections of distress and 
indignation. 

* Dear saint that you are,' she said, when Milly laughed, and 
suggested that, as her silk was not very glossy to begin with, the 
dim patch would not be much seen ; ' you don't mind about these 
things, I know. Just the same sort of thing happened to me at 
the Princess Wengstein's one day, on a pink satin. I was in an 
agony. But you are so indifferent to dress ; and well you may be. 
It is you who make dress pretty, and not dress that makes you 
pretty.' 

Alice, the buxom lady's-maid, wearing a much better dress 
than Mrs. Barton's, now appeared to take Mr. Bridmain's place 
in retrieving the mischief, and after a great amount of supple- 
mentary rubbing, composure was restored, and the business of 
dining was continued. 

When John was recounting his accident to the cook in the 
kitchen, he observed, * Mrs. Barton's a hamable woman ; I'd a deal 
sooner ha' throwed the gravy o'er the Countess's fine gownd. But 
laws ! what tantrums she'd ha' been in arter the visitors was gone.' 

* You'd a deal sooner not ha' throwed it down at all, / should 
think,' responded the unsympathetic cook, to whom John did not 
make love. ' Who d'you think's to make gravy anuff, if you're to 
baste people's gownds wi' it % ' 



46 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Well,' suggested John, humbly, * you should wet the bottom 
of the duree a bit, to hold it from slippin'/ 

* Wet your granny ! ' returned the cook ; a retort which she 
probably regarded in the light of a redudio ad absurdmn, and 
which in fact reduced John to silence. 

Later on in the evening, while John was removing the tea- 
things from the drawing-room, and brushing the crumbs from the 
table-cloth with an accompanying hiss, such as he was wont to 
encourage himself with in rubbing down Mr. Bridmain's horse, 
the Rev. Amos Barton drew from his pocket a thin green-covered 
pamphlet, and, presenting it to the Countess, said — 

*You were pleased, I think, with my sermon on Christmas 
Day. It has been printed in The Pulpit, and I thought you 
might like a copy.' 

* That indeed I shall. I shall quite value the opportunity of 
reading that sermon. There was such depth in it ! — such argu- 
ment ! It was not a sermon to be heard only once. I am 
delighted that it should become generally known, as it will be, 
now it is printed in The PtdpiV 

*Yes,' said Milly innocently, *I was so pleased with the 
editor's letter.' And she drew out her little pocket-book, where 
she carefully treasured the editorial autograph, while Mr. Barton 
laughed and blushed, and said, ' Nonsense, Milly ! ' -* 

* You see,' she said, giving the letter to the Countess, * I am 
very proud of the praise my husband gets.' 

The sermon in question, by the by, was an extremely 
argumentative one on the Incarnation ; which, as it was preached 
to a congregation not one of whom had any doubt of that 
doctrine, and to whom the Socinians therein confuted were as 
unknown as the Arimaspians, was exceedingly well adapted to 
trouble and confuse the Sheppertouian mind. 

* Ah,' said the Countess, returning the editor's letter, * he may 
well say he will be glad of other sermons from the same source. 
But I would rather you should publish your sermons in an 
independent volume, Mr. Barton ; it would be so desirable to 
have them in that shape. For instance, I could send a copy to 
the Dean of Radborough. And there is Lord Blarney, whom I 
knew before he was Chancellor. I was a special favourite of his, 
and you can't think what sweet things he used to say to me. I 
shall not resist the temptation to write to him one of these days 
sans fa(^on, and tell him how he ought to dispose of the next 
vacant living in his gift.' 

Whether Jet the spaniel, being a much mor^ knowing dog 
than was suspected, wished to express his disapproval of the 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 47 

Countess's last speech, as not accordant with his ideas of wisdom 
and veracity, I cannot say ; but at this moment he jumped off 
her lap, and turning his back upon her, placed one paw on the 
fender, and held the other up to warm, as if affecting to abstract 
himself from the current of conversation. 

But now Mr. Bridmain brought out the chess-board, aAd Mr. 
Barton accepted his challenge to play a game, with immense 
satisfaction. The Rev. Amos was very fond of chess, as most 
people are who can continue through many years to create 
interesting vicissitudes in the game, by taking long-meditated 
moves with their knights, and subsequently discovering that they 
have thereby exposed their queen. 

Chess is a silent game ; and the Countess's chat with Milly is 
in quite an undertone — probably relating to women's matters 
that it would be impertinent for us to listen to ; so we will leave 
Camp Villa, and proceed to Milby Vicarage, where Mr. Farquhar 
has sat out two other guests with whom he has been dining at 
Mr. Ely's, and is now rather wearying that reverend gentleman 
by his protracted small-talk. 

Mr. Ely was a tall, dark-haired, distinguished-looking man of 
three-and-thirty. By the laity of Milby and its neighbourhood he 
was regarded as a man of quite remarkable powers and learning, 
who must make a considerable sensation in London pulpits and 
drawing-rooms on his occasional visits to the metropolis ; and by 
his brother clergy he was regarded as a discreet and agreeable 
fellow. Mr. Ely never got into a warm discussion ; he suggested 
what might be thought, but rarely said what he thought himself ; 
he never let either men or women see that he was laughing at 
them, and he never gave any one an opportunity of laughing 
at him. In one thing only he was injudicious. He parted 
his dark wavy hair down the middle ; and as his head was rather 
flat than otherwise, that style of coiffure was not advantageous 
to him. 

Mr. Farquhar, though not a parishioner of Mr. Ely's, was one 
of his warmest admirers, and thought he would make an 
unexceptionable . son-in-law, in spite of his being of no par- 
ticular * family.' Mr. Farquhar was susceptible on the point of 
* blood ' — his own circulating fluid, which animated a short and 
somewhat flabby person, being, he considered, of very superior 
quality, 

* By the by,' he said, with a certain pomposity counteracted by 
a lisp, 'what an ath Barton makth of himthelf, about that 
Bridmain and the Counteth, ath she callth herthelf. After you 
were gone the other evening, Mithith Farquhar wath telling him 



48 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the general opinion about them in the neighbourhood, and he got 
quite red and angry. Bleth your thoul, he believeth the whole 
thtory about her Polish huthband and hith wonderful ethcapeth ; 
and ath for her — why, he thinkth her perfection, a woman of 
motht refined feelingth, and no end of thtuflf.' 

Mr; Ely smiled. * Some people would say our friend Barton 
was not the best judge of refinement. Perhaps the lady flatters 
him a little, and we men are susceptible. She goes to Shepperton 
Church every Sunday — drawn there, let us suppose, by Mr. 
Barton's eloquence.' 

* Pthaw,' said Mr. Farquhar : * now, to my mind, you have only 
to look at that woman to thee what she ith — throwing her eyth 
about when she comth into church, and drething in a way to attract 
attention. I should thay, she'th tired of her brother Bridmain 
and looking out for another brother with a thtronger family 
likeneth. Mithith Farquhar ith very fond of Mithith Barton, 
and ith quite dithtrethed that she should athothiate with thuch a 
woman, tho she attacked him on the thubject purpothly. But I 
tell her it'th of no uthe, with a pig-headed fellow like him. 
Barton'th well-meaning enough, but tho contheited. IVe left oflF 
giving him my advithe.' 

Mr. Ely smiled inwardly and said to himself, * What a punish- 
ment 1 ' But to Mr. Farquhar he said, * Barton might be more 
judicious, it must be confessed.' He was getting tired, and did 
not want to develop the subject. 

* Why, nobody vithit-th them but the Bartonth,' continued Mr. 
Farquhar, * and why should thuch people come here, unleth they 
had particular reathonth for preferring a neighbourhood where 
they are not known ? Pooh ! it lookth bad on the very fathe of 
it. You called on them, now ; how did you find them ? ' 

* Oh ! — Mr. Bridmain strikes me as a common sort of man, 
who is making an effort to seem wise and well-bred. He comes 
down on one tremendously with political information, and seems 
knowing about the king of the French. The Countess is certainly 
a handsome woman, but she puts on the grand air a little too 
powerfully. Woodcock was immensely taken with her, and 
insisted on his wife's calling on her and asking her to dinner ; but 
I think Mrs. Woodcock turned restive after the first visit, and 
wouldn't invite her again.' 

' Ha, ha ! Woodcock hath alwayth a thoft place in hith heart 
for a pretty fathe. It'-th odd how he came to marry that plain 
woman, and no fortune either.' 

* Mysteries of the tender passion,' said Mr. Ely. * I am not 
initiated yet, you know.' 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 49 

Here Mr. Farquhar's carriage was announced, and as we 
have not found his conversation particularly brilliant under 
the stimulus of Mr. Ely's exceptional presence, we will not 
accompany him home to the less exciting atmosphere of domestic 
life. 

Mr. Ely threw himself with a sense of relief into his easiest 
chair, set his feet on the hobs, and in this attitude of bachelor 
enjoyment began to read Bishop Jebb's Memoirs. 



CHAPTER IV 

I AM by no means sure that if the good people of Milby had 
known the truth about the Countess Czerlaski, they would not 
have been considerably disappointed to find that it was very far 
from being as bad as they imagined. Nice distinctions are trouble- 
some. It is so much easier to say that a thing is black, than to 
discriminate the particular shade of brown, blue, or green to 
which it really belongs. It is so much easier to make up your 
mind that your neighbour is good for nothing, than to enter into 
all the circumstances that would oblige you to modify that 
opinion. 

Besides, think of all the virtuous declamation, all the 
penetrating observation, which had been built up entirely on 
the fundamental position that the Countess was a very objection- 
able person indeed, and which would be utterly overturned and 
nullified by the destruction of that premiss. Mrs. Phipps, the 
banker's wife, and Mrs. Landor, the attorney's wife, had invested 
part of their reputation for acuteness in the supposition that Mr. 
Bridmain was not the Countess's brother. Moreover, Miss Phipps 
was conscious that if the Countess was not a disreputable person, 
she. Miss Phipps, had no compensating superiority in virtue to 
set against the other lady's manifest superiority in personal 
charms. Miss Phipps's stumpy figure and unsuccessful attire, 
instead of looking down from a mount of virtue with an aureole 
round its head, would then be seen on the same level and in the 
same light as the Countess Czerlaski's Diana-like form and well- 
chosen drapery. Miss Phipps, for her part, didn't like dressing 
for effect — she had always avoided that style of appearance which 
was calculated to create a sensation. 

Then what amusing innuendoes of the Milby gentlemen over 
their wine would have been entirely frustrated and reduced to 
nought, if you had told them tliat the Countess had really been 
guilty of no misdemeanours which demanded her exclusion from 
strictly respectable society ; that her husband had been the 

50 




Initiated Lady Porters daughters. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 53 

veritable Count Czerlaski, who had had wonderful escapes, as she 
said, and who, as she did not say, but as was said in certain 
circulars once folded by her fair hands, had subsequently given 
dancing lessons in the metropolis ; that Mr. Bridmain was neither 
more nor less than her half-brother, who, by unimpeached integrity 
and industry, had won a partnership in a silk-manufactory, and 
thereby a moderate fortune, that enabled him to retire, as you 
see, to study politics, the weather, and the art of conversation at 
his leisure. Mr. Bridmain, in fact, quadragenarian bachelor as 
he was, felt extremely well pleased to receive his sister in her 
widowhood, and to shine in the reflected light of her beauty and 
title. Every man who is not a monster, a mathematician, or a 
mad philosopher, is the slave of some woman or other. Mr. 
Bridmain had put his neck under the yoke of his handsome sister, 
and though his soul was a very little one — of the smallest 
description indeed — he would not have ventured to call it his 
own. He might be slightly recalcitrant now and then, as is the 
habit of long -eared pachyderms, under the thong of the fair 
Countess's tongue ; but there seemed little probability that he 
would ever get his neck loose. Still, a bachelor's heart is an 
outlying fortress that some fair enemy may any day take either 
by storm or stratagem ; and there was always the possibility that 
Mr. Bridmain 's first nuptials might occur before the Countess 
was quite sure of her second. As it was, however, he submitted 
to all his sister's caprices, never grumbled because her dress and 
her maid formed a considerable item beyond her own little income 
of sixty pounds per annum, and consented to lead with her a 
migratory life, as personages on the debatable ground between 
aristocracy and commonalty, instead of settling in some spot 
where his five hundred a year might have won him the definite 
dignity of a parochial magnate. 

The Countess had her views in choosing a quiet provincial 
place like Milby. After three years of widowhood, she had 
brought her feelings to contemplate giving a successor to her 
lamented Czerlaski^ whose fine whiskers, fine air, and romantic 
fortunes had won her heart ten years ago, when, as pretty 
Caroline Bridmain, in the full bloom of five-and-twenty, she was 
governess to Lady Porter's daughters, whom he initiated into the 
mysteries of the pas de basque and the Lancers' quadrilles. She 
had had seven years of sufiiciently happy matrimony with 
Czerlaski, who. had taken her to Paris and Germany, and 
introduced her there to many of his old friends with large titles 
and small fortunes. So that the fair Caroline had had considerable 
experience of life, and had gathered therefrom, not, indeed, any 



r>4 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

very ripe and compreheusive wisdom, but much external polish, 
and certain practical conclusions of a very decided kind. One of 
these conclusions was, that there were things more solid in life 
than fine whiskers and a title, and that, in accepting a second 
husband, she would regard these items as quite subordinate to 
a carriage and a settlement. Now, she had ascertained, by- 
tentative residences, that the kind of bite she was angling for was 
difficult to be met with at watering-places, which were already 
preoccupied with abundance of angling beauties, and were chiefly- 
stocked with men whose whiskers might be dyed, and whose 
incomes were still more problematic ; so she had determined on 
trying a neighbourhood where people were extremely well 
acquainted with each other's affairs, and where the women were 
mostly ill -dressed and ugly. Mr. Bridmain's slow brain had 
adopted his sister's views, and it seemed to him that a woman so 
handsome and distinguished as the Countess must certainly make 
a match that might lift himself into the region of county 
celebrities, and give him at least a sort of cousinship to the 
quarter-sessions. 

All this, which was the simple truth, would have seemed 
extremely flat to the gossips of Milby, who had made up their 
minds to something much more exciting. There was nothing 
here so very detestable. It is true, the Countess was a little 
vain, a little ambitious, a little selfish, a little shallow and 
frivolous, a little given to white lies. — But who considers such 
slight blemishes, such moral pimples as these, disqualification* 
for entering into the most respectable society ! Indeed, the 
severest ladies in Milby would have been perfectly aware that 
these characteristics would have created no wide distinction 
between the Countess Czerlaski and themselves ; and since it 
was clear there was a wide distinction — why, it must lie in the 
possession of some vices from which they were undeniably free. 

Hence it came to pass that Milby respectability refused to 
recognise the Countess Czerlaski, in spite of her assiduous church- 
going, and the deep disgust she was known to have expressed 
at the extreme paucity of the congregations on Ash- Wednesdays. 
So she began to feel that she had miscalculated the advantages 
of a neighbourhood where people are well acquainted with each 
other's private affairs. Under these circumstances, you will 
imagine how welcome was the perfect credence and admiration 
she met with from Mr. and Mrs. Barton. She had been especially 
irritated by Mr. Ely's behaviour to her ; she felt sure that he 
was not in the least struck with her beauty, that he quizzed her 
conversation, and that he spoke of her with a sneer. A woman 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 55 

always knows where she is utterly powerless, and shuns a coldly 
satirical eye as she would shun a Gorgon. And she was especially 
eager for clerical notice and friendship, not merely because that 
is quite the most respectable countenance to be obtained in society, 
but because she really cared about religious matters, and had an 
uneasy sense that she was not altogether safe in that quarter. 
She had serious intentions of becoming quite pious — without any 
reserves — when she had once got her carriage and settlement. 
Let us do this one sly trick, says Ulysses to Neoptolemus, and 
we will be perfectly honest ever after — 

dW Tf(5v ydp TOL kttjijxl riji vLktis XajSeti', 

The Countess did not quote Sophocles, but she said to herself, 
* Only this little bit of pretence and vanity, and then I will be 
quite good, and make myself quite safe for another world.' 

And as she had by no means such fine taste and insight in 
theological teaching as in costume, the Rev. Amos Barton seemed 
to her a man not only of learning — that is always understood 
with a clergyman — but of much power as a spiritual director. 
As for Milly, the Countess really loved her as well as the pre- 
occupied state of her affections would allow. For you have 
already perceived that there was one being to whom the Countess 
was absorbingly devoted, and to whose desires she made every- 
thing else subservient — namely, Caroline Czerlaski, uee Bridmain. 

Thus there was really not much affectation in her sweet 
speeches and attentions to Mr. and Mrs. Barton. Still their 
friendship by no means adequately represented the object she 
had in view when she came to Milby, and it had been for some 
time clear to her that she must suggest a new change of residence 
to her brother. 

The thing we look forward to often comes to pass, but never 
precisely in the way we have imagined to ourselves. The Countess 
did actually leave Camp Villa before many months were past, 
but under circumstances which had not at all entered into her 
contemplation. 



CHAPTER V 

The Rev. Amos Barton, whose sad fortunes I have undertaken to 
relate, was, you perceive, in no respect an ideal or exceptional 
character ; and perhaps I am doing a bold thing to bespeak your 
sympathy on behalf of a man who was so very far from remark- 
able, — a man whose virtues were not heroic, and who had no 
undetected crime within his breast; who had not the slightest 
mystery hanging about him, but was palpably and unmistakably 
commonplace ; who was not even in love, but had had that 
complaint favourably many years ago. ' An utterly uninteresting 
character I ' I think I hear a lady reader exclaim — Mrs. Farthingale, 
for example, who prefers the ideal in fiction ; to whom tragedy 
means ermine tippets, adultery, and murder ; and comedy, the 
adventures of some personage who is quite a * character.' 

But, my dear madam, it is so very large a majority of your 
fellow-countrymen that are of this insignificant stamp. At least 
eighty out of a hundred of your adult male fellow-Britons returned 
in the last census are neither extraordinarily silly, nor extraordin- 
arily wicked, nor extraordinarily wise : their eyes are neither 
deep and liquid with sentiment, nor sparkling with suppressed 
witticisms ; they have probably had no hairbreadth escapes or 
thrilling adventures ; their brains are certainly not pregnant with 
genius, and their passions have not manifested themselves at all 
after the fashion of a volcano. They are simply men of com- 
j)lexions more or less muddy, whose conversation is more or less 
bald and disjointed. Yet these commonplace people — many of 
them — bear a conscience, and have felt the sublime prompting to 
do the painful right ; they have their unspoken sorrows, and their 
sa Ted joys : their hearts have perhaps gone out towards their 
first-born, and they have mourned over the irreclaimable dead. 
Nay, is there not a pathos in their very insignificance — iu our 
comparison of their dim and narrow existence with the glorious 
possibilities of that human nature which they share 1 

56 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. A^IOS BARTON 57 

Depend upon it, you would gain unspeakably if you would 
learn with me to see some of the poetry and the pathos, the 
tragedy and the comedy, lying in the experience of a human soul 
that looks out through dull grey eyes, and that speaks in a voice of 
quite ordinary tones. In that case, I should have no fear of your 
not caring to know what farther befell the Rev. Amos Barton, or 
of your thinking the homely details I have to tell at all beneath 
your attention. As it is, you can, if you please, decline to pursue 
my story farther ; and you will easily find reading more to your 
taste, since I learn from the newspapers that many remarkable 
novels, full of striking situations, thrilling incidents, and eloquent 
writing, have appeared only within the last season J 

Meanwhile, readers who have begun to feel an interest in the 
Rev. Amos Barton and his wife, will be glad to learn that Mr. 
Oldinport lent the twenty pounds. But twenty pounds are soon 
exhausted when twelve are due as back payment to the butcher, 
and when the possession of eight extra sovereigns in February 
weather is an irresistible temptation to order a new greatcoat. 
And though Mr. Bridmain so far departed from the necessary 
economy entailed on him by the Countess's elegant toilette and 
expensive maid, as to choose a handsome black silk, stiff, as his 
experienced eye discerned, with the genuine strength of its own 
texture, and not with the factitious strength of gum, and present it 
to Mrs. Barton, in retrieval of the accident that had occurred at his 
table, yet, dear me — as every husband has heard — what is the 
present of a gown when you are deficiently furnished with the 
et ceteras of apparel, and when, moreover, there are six children 
whose wear and tear of clothes is something incredible to the non- 
maternal mind ? 

Indeed, the equation of income and expenditure was offering 
new and constantly accumulating difficulties to Mr. and Mrs. 
Barton ; for shortly after the birth of little Walter, Milly's aunt, who 
had lived with her ever since her marriage, had withdrawn herself, 
her furniture, and her yearly income, to the household of another 
niece; prompted to that step, very probably, by a slight *tift'' 
with the Rev. Amos, which occurred while Milly was upstairs, 
and proved one too many for the elderly lady's patience and 
magnanimity. Mr. Barton's temper was a little warm, but, on the 
other hand, elderly maiden ladies are known to be susceptible ; so 
we will not suppose that all the blame lay on his side — the less 
so, as he had every motive for humouring an inmate whose presence 
kept the wolf from the door. It was now nearly a year since 
Miss Jackson's departure, and, to a fine ear, the howl of the wolf 
was audibly approaching. 



58 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

It was a sad thing, too, that when the last snow had melted, 
when the purple and yellow crocuses were coming up in the garden, 
and the old church was already half pulled down, Milly had an 
illness which made her lips look pale, and rendered it absolutely- 
necessary that she should not exert herself for some time. Mr. 
Brand, the Shepperton doctor so obnoxious to Mr. Pilgrim, ordered 
her to drink port- wine, and it was quite necessary to have a char- 
woman very often, to assist Nanny in all the extra work that fell 
upon her. 

Mrs. Hackit, who hardly ever paid a visit to any one but her 
oldest and nearest neighbour, Mrs. Patten, now took the unusual 
step of calling at the vicarage one morning ; and the tears came 
into her unsentimental eyes as she saw l^lilly seated pale and 
feeble in the parlour, unable to persevere in sewing the pinafore 
that lay on the table beside her. Little Dickey, a boisterous 
boy of five, with large pink cheeks and sturdy legs, was having 
his turn to sit with Mamma, and was squatting quiet as a 
mouse at her knee, holding her soft white hand between his 
little red black-nailed fists. He was a boy whom Mrs. Hackit, 
in a severe mood, had pronounced * stocky ' (a word that etymo- 
logically, in all probability, conveys some allusion to an instru- 
ment of punishment for the refractory) ; but seeing him thus 
subdued into goodness, she smiled at him with her kindest smile, 
and, stooping down, suggested a kiss — a favour which Dickey 
resolutely declined. 

* Now do you take nourishing things enough ? ' was one of Mrs. 
Hackit's first questions, and Milly endeavoured to make it appear 
that no woman was ever so much in danger of being over-fed and 
led into self-indulgent habits as herself. But Mrs. Hackit gathered 
one fact from her replies, namely, that Mr. Brand had ordered 
port- wine. 

While this conversation was going forward, Dickey had been 
furtively stroking and kissing the soft white hand ; so that at last, 
when a pause came, his mother said, smilingly, *Why are you 
kissing my hand, Dickey 1 ' 

* It id to yovely,' answered Dickey, who, you observe, was 
decidedly backward in his pronunciation. 

Mrs. Hackit remembered this little scene in after days, and 
thought with peculiar tenderness and pity of the * stocky boy.' 

The next day there came a hamper with Mrs. Hackit's 
respects ; and on being opened it was found to contain half a 
dozen of port-wine and two couples of fowls. Mrs. Farquhar, 
too, was very kind; insisted on Mrs. Barton's rejecting all 
arrowroot but hers, which was genuine Indian, and carried away 




Little Dickey having his turn to sit with Mamma, 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 61 

Sophy and Fred to stay with her a fortnight. These and other 
good-natured attentions made the trouble of Milly's illness more 
bearable ; but they could not prevent it from swelling ex- 
penses, and Mr. Barton began to have serious thoughts of 
representing his case to a certain charity for the relief of needy 
curates. 

Altogether, as matters stood in Shepperton, the parishioners 
were more likely to have a strong sense that the clergyman 
needed their material aid, than that they needed his spiritual 
aid, — not the best state of things in this age and country, 
where faith in men solely on the ground of their spiritual 
gifts has considerably diminished, and especially unfavour- 
able to the influence of the Rev. Amos, whose spiritual gifts 
would not have had a very commanding power even in an age 
of faith. 

But, you ask, did not the Countess Czerlaski pay any attention 
to her friends all this time? To be sure she did. She was 
indefatigable in visiting her * sweet Milly,' and sitting with her 
for hours together. It may seem remarkable to you that she 
neither thought of taking away any of the children, nor of 
providing for any of Milly's probable wants ; but ladies of rank 
and of luxurious habits, you know, cannot be expected to surmise 
the details of poverty. She put a great deal of eau-de-Cologne 
on Mrs. Barton's pocket-handkerchief, rearranged her pillow 
and footstool, kissed her cheeks, wrapped her in a soft warm 
shawl from her own shoulders, and amused her with stories 
of the life she had seen abroad. When Mr. Barton joined 
them she talked of Tractarianism, of her determination not to 
re-enter the vortex of fashionable life, and of her anxiety to 
see him in a sphere large enough for his talents. Milly 
thought her sprightliness and affectionate warmth quite charm- 
ing, and was very fond of her ; while the Rev. Amos had a vague 
consciousness that he had risen into aristocratic life, and only 
associated with his middle-class parishioners in a pastoral and 
parenthetic manner. 

However, as the days brightened, Milly's cheeks and lips 
brightened too ; and in a few weeks she was almost as active as ever, 
though watchful eyes might have seen that activity was not easy to 
her. Mrs. Hackit's eyes were of that kind, and one day, when Mr. 
and Mrs. Barton had been dining with her for the first time since 
Milly's illness, she observed to her husband — * That poor thing's 
dreadful weak an' dilicate ; she won't stan' havin' many more 
children.' -« 

Mr. Barton, meanwhile, had been indefatigable in his vocation. 



62 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

He had preached two extemporary sermons every Sunday at the 
workhouse, where a room had been fitted up for divine service, 
pending the alterations in the church ; and had walked the same 
evening to a cottage at one or other extremity of his parish to 
deliver another sermon, still more extemporary, in an atmosphere 
impregnated with spring-flowers and perspiration. After all these 
labours you will easily conceive that he was considerably 
exhausted by half-past nine o'clock in the evening, and that a 
supper at a friendly parishioner's, with a glass, or even two glasses, 
of brandy- and- water after it, was a welcome reinforcement. (Mr. 
Barton was not at all an ascetic; he thought the benefits of 
fasting were entirely confined to the Old Testament dispensation ; 
he was fond of relaxing himself with a little gossip; indeed. 
Miss Bond, and other ladies of enthusiastic views, sometimes 
regretted that Mr. Barton did not more uninterruptedly exhibit 
a superiority to the things of the flesh. Thin ladies, who take 
little exercise, and whose livers are not strong enough to bear 
stimulants, are so extremely critical about one's personal habits ! 
And, after all, the Rev. Amos never came near the borders of 
a vice. His very faults were middling — he was not very 
ungrammatical. It was not in his nature to be superlative in 
anything; unless, indeed, he was superlatively middling, the 
quintessential extract of mediocrity. If there was any one 
point on which he showed an inclination to be excessive, it 
was confidence in his own shrewdness and ability in practical 
matters, so that he was very full of plans which were some- 
thing like his moves in chess — admirably well calculated, 
supposing the sf^te of the case were otherwise. For example, 
that notable plan of introducing anti - Dissenting books into 
his Lending Libraiy did not in the least appear to have bruised 
the head of Dissent, though it had certainly made Dissent 
strongly inclined to bite the Rev. Amos's heel. Again, he vexed 
the souls of his churchwardens and influential parishioners by 
his fertile suggestiveness as to what it would be well for them 
to do in the matter of the church repairs, and other ecclesi- 
astical secularities. 

* I never saw the like to parsons,' Mr. Hackit said one day in 
conversation with his brother churchwarden, Mr. Bond ; * they're 
al'ys for meddling with business, an' they know no more about it 
than my black filly.' 

* Ah,' said Mr. Bond, * they're too high learnt to have much 
common-sense.' 

* Well,' remarked Mr. Hackit, in a modest and dubious tone, 
as if throwing out a hypothesis which might be considered bold, . 




. A superiority to the things of the ricsh 



>' : \:V !•! 



1 






■ t<- \ 






' i ^ r ■ ^ ^1 1 i 



f -__- 



5*-' ■' It:'* „u ■ f 



.IIJ.E 




A superiority to the things of the flesh. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 63 

' I should say that's a bad sort of eddication as makes folks 
unreasonable/ 

So that, you perceive, Mr. Barton's popularity was in that 
precarious condition, in that toppling and contingent state, in 
which a very slight push from a malignant destiny would utterly 
upset it. That push was not long in being given, as you shall 
hear. 

One fine May morning, when Amos was out on his parochial 
visits, and the sunlight was streaming through the bow-window 
of the sitting-room, where Milly was seated at her sewing, 
occasionally looking up to glance at the children playing in the 
garden, there came a loud rap at the door, which she at once 
recognised as the Countess's, and that well-dressed lady presently 
entered the sitting-room, with her veil drawn over her face. 
Milly was not at all surprised or sorry to see her ; but when the 
Countess threw up her veil, and showed that her eyes were red 
and swollen, she was both surprised and sorry. 

* What can be the matter, dear Caroline 1 ' 

Caroline threw down Jet, who gave a little yelp ; then she 
threw her arms round Milly's neck, and began to sob ; then she 
threw herself on the sofa, and begged for a glass of water ; then 
she threw off her bonnet and shawl ; and by the time Milly's 
imagination had exhausted itself in conjuring up calamities, she 
said — 

* Dear, how shall I tell you 1 I am the most wretched woman. 
To be deceived by a brother to whom I have been so devoted — 
to see him degrading himself — giving himself utterly to the 
dogs ! ' 

* What can it be ? ' said Milly, who began to picture to herself 
the sober Mr. Bridmain taking to brandy and betting. 

*He is going to be married — to marry my own maid, that 
deceitful Alice, to whom I have been the most indulgent 
mistress. Did you ever hear of anything so disgraceful ? so 
mortifying 1 so disreputable 1 ' 

* And has he only just told you of it ? ' said Milly, who, having 
really heard of worse conduct, even in her innocent life, avoided a 
direct answer. 

* Told me of it ! he had not even the grace to do that. I went 
into the dining-room suddenly and found him kissing her — 
disgusting at his time of life, is it not *? — and when I reproved 
her for allowing such liberties, she turned round saucily, and 
said she was engaged to be married to my brother, and she saw 
no shame in allowing him to kiss her. Edmund is a miserable 
coward, you know, and looked frightened ; but when she asked 



64 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

him to say whether it was not so, he tried to summon up courage 
and say yes. I left the room in disgust, and this morning I have 
been questioning Edmund, and find that he is bent on marrying 
this woman, and that he has been putting oft* telling me — because 
he was ashamed of himself, I suppose. I couldn't possibly stay- 
in the house after this, with my own maid turned mistress. And 
now, Milly, I am come to throw myself on your charity for a week 
or two. Will you take me in T 

* That we will,' said Milly, * if you will only put up with our 
poor rooms and way of living. It will be delightful to have 
you ! ' 

* It will soothe me to be with you and Mr. Barton a little 
while. I feel quite unable to go among my other friends just at 
present. What those two wretched people will do I don't know 
— leave the neighbourhood at once, I hope. I entreated my 
brother to do so, before he disgraced himself.' 

When Amos came home, he joined his cordial welcome and 
sympathy to MiJly's. By and by the Countess's formidable boxes, 
which she had carefully packed before her indignation drove her 
away from Camp Villa, arrived at the vicarage, and were deposited 
in the spare bedroom, and in two closets, not spare, which Milly 
emptied for their reception. A week afterwards, the excellent 
apartments at Camp Villa, comprising dining and drawing 
rooms, three bedrooms and a dressing-room, were again to let, 
and Mr. Bridmain's sudden departure, together with the Countess 
Czerlaski's installation as a visitor at Shepperton Vicarage, became 
a topic of general conversation in the neighbourhood. The keen- 
sighted virtue of Milby and Shepperton saw in all this a 
confirmation of its worst suspicions, and pitied the Rev. Amos 
Barton's gullibility. 

But when week after week, and month after month, slipped by 
without witnessing the Countess's departure — when summer and 
harvest had fled, and still left her behind them occupying the 
spare bedroom and the closets, and also a large proportion of Mrs. 
Barton's time and attention, new surmises of a very evil kind 
were added to the old rumours, and began to take the form of 
settled convictions in the minds even of Mr. Barton's most friendly 
parishioners. 

And now, here is an opportimity for an accomplished writer 
to apostrophise calumny, to quote Virgil, and to show that he is 
acquainted with the Ihost ingenious things which have been said 
on that subject in polite literature. 

But what is opportunity to the man who can't use it ? An 
unfecundated egg, which the waves of time wash away into 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 65 

nonentity. So, as my memory is ill-furnished, and my notebook 
stiU worse, I am unable to show myself either erudite or eloquent 
apropos of the calumny whereof the Rev. Amos Barton was the 
victim. I can only ask my reader, — did you ever upset your 
ink-bottle, and watch, in helpless agony,, the rapid spread of 
Stygian blackness over your fair manuscript or fairer table-cover ? 
With a like inky swiftness did gossip now blacken the reputation 
of the Rev. Amos Barton, causing the unfriendly to scorn and even 
the friendly to stand aloof, at a time when difficulties of another 
kind were fast thickening around him. 



CHAPTER VI 

One November morning, at least six months after the Countess 
Czerlaski had taken up her residence at the vicarage, Mrs. Hackit 
heard that her neighbour Mrs. Patten had an attack of her old 
complaint, vaguely called *the spasms.' Accordingly, about 
eleven o'clock, she put on her velvet bonnet and cloth cloak, 
with a long boa and muff large enough to stow a prize baby in ; 
for Mrs. Hackit regulated her costume by the calendar, and 
brought out her furs on the first of November, whatever might 
be the temperature. She was not a woman weakly to accom- 
modate herself to shilly-shally proceedings. If the season didn't 
know what it ought to do, Mrs. Hackit did. In her best days, 
it was always sharp weather at * Gunpowder Plot,' and she didn't 
like new fashions. 

And this morning the weather was very rationally in accordance 
with her costume, for as she made her way through the fields to 
Cross Farm, the yellow leaves on the hedge-girt elms which showed 
bright and golden against the low-hanging purple clouds, were 
being scattered across the grassy path by the coldest of November 
winds. *Ah,' Mrs. Hackit thought to herself, *I daresay we 
shall have a sharp pinch this winter, and if we do, I shouldn't 
wonder if it takes the old lady off". They say a green Yule makes 
a fat churchyard ; but so does a white Yule- too, for that matter. 
When the stool's rotten enough, no matter who sits on it.' 

However, on her arrival at Cross Farm, the prospect of Mrs. 
Patten's decease was again thrown into the dim distance in her 
imagination, for Miss Janet Gibbs met her with the news that 
Mrs. Patten was much better, and led her, without any preliminary 
announcement, to the old lady's bedroom. Janet had scarcely 
reached the end of her circumstantial narrative how the attack 
came on and what were her aunt's sensations — a narrative to 
which Mrs. Patten, in her neatly plaited nightcap, seemed to 
listen with a contemptuous resignation to her niece's historical 
inaccuracy, contenting herself with occasionally confounding Janet 




c^r:........,,... 



IVkat a disgraceful business this is. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 69 

by a shake of the head — when the clatter of a horse's hoofs 
on the yard pavement announced the arrival of Mr. Pilgrim, 
whose large, top-booted person presently made its appearance up- 
stairs. He found Mrs. Patten going on so well that there was no 
need to look solemn. He might glide from condolence into gossip 
without offence, and the temptation of having Mrs. Hackit's ear 
was irresistible. 

*What a disgraceful business this is turning out of your 
parson's,' was the remark with which he made this agreeable 
transition, throwing himself back in the chair from which he had 
been leaning towards the patient. 

' Eh, dear me ! ' said Mrs. Hackit, ' disgraceful enough. I 
stuck to Mr. Barton as long as I could, for his wife's sake ; but I 
can't countenance such goings-on. It's hateful to see that woman 
coming with 'em to service of a Sunday, and if Mr. Hackit 
wasn't churchwarden and I didn't think it wrong to forsake one's 
own parish, I should go to Knebley Church. There's a many 
parish'ners as do.' 

*I used to think Barton was only a fool,' observed Mr. 
Pilgrim, in a tone which implied that he was conscious of having 
been weakly charitable. * I thought he was imposed upon and 
led away by those people when they first came. But that's 
impossible now.' 

/ * Oh, it's as plain as the nose in your face,' said Mrs. Hackit, 
unreflectingly, not perceiving the equivoque in her comparison — 
* comin' to Milby, like a sparrow perchin' on a bough, as I may 
say, with her brother, as she called him ; and then all on a sudden 
the brother goes off with himself, and she throws herself on the 
Bartons. Though what could make her take up with a poor 
notomise of a parson, as hasn't got enough to keep wife and 
children, there's One above knows — / don't.' \ 

*Mr. Barton may have attractions we don't know of,' said Mr. 
Pilgrim, who piqued himself on a talent for sarcasm. *The 
Countess has no maid now, and they say Mr. Barton is handy in 
assisting at her toilette — laces her boots, and so forth.' 

* Tilette, be fiddled ! ' said Mrs. Hackit, with indignant 
boldness of metaphor : * an' there's that poor thing a-sewing her 
fingers to the bone for them children — an' another comin' on. 
What she must have to go through ! It goes to my heart to turn 
my back on her. But she's i' the wrong to let herself be put 
upon i' that manner.' 

* Ah ! I was talking to Mrs. Farquhar about that the other day. 
She said, " I think Mrs. Barton a v-e-r-y w-e-a-k w-o-m-a-n." ' 
(Mr. Pilgrim gave this quotation with slow emphasis, as if he 



70 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

thought Mrs. Farquhar had uttered a remarkable sentiment.) 

* They find it impossible to invite her to their house while she has 
that equivocal person staying with her.' 

* Well ! ' remarked Miss Gibbs, * if I was a wife, nothing 
Bhould induce me to bear what Mrs. Barton does.' 

* Yes, it's fine talking,' said Mrs. Patten, from her pillow ; 

* old maids' husbands are al'ys well-managed. If you was a wife 
you'd be as foolish as your betters, belike.' 

* All my wonder is,' observed Mrs. Hackit, * how the Bartons 
make both ends meet. You may depend on it, she^s got nothing 
to give 'em ; for I understand as he's been bavin' money from 
some clergy charity. They said at fust as she stuffed Mr. Barton 
wi' notions about her writing to the Chancellor an' her fine 
friends, to give him a living. Howiver, I don't know what's true 
an' what's false. Mr. Barton keeps away from our house now, 
for I gave him a bit o' my mind one day. Maybe he's ashamed 
of himself. He seems to me to look dreadful thin an' harassed of 
a Sunday.' 

* Oh, he must be aware he's getting into bad odour everywhere. 
The clergy are quite disgusted with his folly. They say Carpe 
would be glad to get Barton out of the curacy if he could ; but 
he can't do that without coming to Shepperton himself, as 
Barton's a licensed curate ; and he wouldn't like that, I suppose.' 

At this moment Mrs. Patten showed signs of uneasiness, 
which recalled Mr. Pilgrim to professional attentions ; and Mrs. 
Hackit, observing that it was Thursday, and she must see after 
the butter, said good-bye, promising to look in again soon, and 
bring her knitting. 

This Thursday, by the by, is the first in the month — the day 
on which the Clerical Meeting is held at Milby Vicarage ; and as 
the Rev. Amos Barton has reasons for not attending, he will very 
likely be a subject of conversation amongst his clerical brethren. 
Suppose we go there, and hear whether Mr. Pilgrim has reported 
their opinion correctly. 

There is not a numerous party to-day, for it is a season of sore 
throats and catarrhs ; so that the exegetical and theological 
discussions, which are the preliminary of dining, have not been 
quite so spirited as usual ; and although a question relative to the 
Epistle of Jude has not been quite cleared up, the striking of six 
by the church clock, and the simultaneous announcement of 
dinner, are sounds that no one feels to be importunate. 

Pleasant (when one is not in the least bilious) to enter a 
comfortable dining-room, where the closely drawn red curtains 
glow with the double light of fire and candle, where glass and 




>'■;•■■■:•. ■.- ■ .,1" 



-'il V-^ ;'uL' :' fll 



a^ 



T_^ '. I '"l')*-tr*ry— \r j^k 






The Clerical Meeting. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 73 

silver are glittering on the pure damask, and a soup-tureen gives 
a hint of the fragrance that will presently rush out to inundate 
your hungry senses, and prepare them, by the delicate visitation 
of atoms, for the keen gusto of ampler contact ! Especially if 
you have confidence in the dinner-giving capacity of your host — 
if you know that he is not a man who entertains grovelling views 
of eating and drinking as a mere satisfaction of hunger and thirst, 
and, dead to all the finer influences of the palate, expects his 
guest to be brilliant on ill-flavoured gravies and the cheapest 
Marsala. Mr. Ely was particularly worthy of such confidence, 
and his virtues as an Amphitryon had probably contributed quite 
as much as the central situation of Milby to the selection of his 
house as a clerical rendezvous. He looks particularly graceful at 
the head of his table, and, indeed, on all occasions where he acts 
as president or moderator : he is a man who seems to listen well, 
and is an excellent amalgam of dissimilar ingredients. 

At the other end of the table, as * Vice,' sits Mr. Fellowes, 
rector and magistrate, a man of imposing appearance, with a 
mellifluous voice and the readiest of tongues. Mr. Fellowes 
once obtained a living by the persuasive charms of his conversa- 
tion, and the fluency with which he interpreted the opinions of 
an obese and stammering baronet, so as to give that elderly 
gentleman a very pleasing perception of his own wisdom. Mr. 
Fellowes is a very successful man, and has the highest character 
everywhere except in his own parish, where, doubtless because 
his parishioners happen to be quarrelsome people, he is always 
at fierce feud with a farmer or two, a colliery proprietor, a 
grocer who was once churchwarden, and a tailor who formerly 
officiated as clerk. 

At Mr. Ely's right hand you see a very small man with a 
sallow and somewhat puffy face, whose hair is brushed straight 
up, evidently with the intention of giving him a height some- 
what less disproportionate to his sense of his own importance 
than the measure of five feet three accorded him by an oversight 
of nature. This is the Rev. Archibald Duke, a very dyspeptic 
and evangelical man, who takes the gloomiest view of mankind 
and their prospects, and thinks the immense sale of the Pickwick 
Papers, recently completed, one of the strongest proofs of original 
sin. Unfortunately, though Mr. Duke was not burdened with a 
family, his yearly expenditure was apt considerably to exceed his 
income ; and the unpleasant circumstances resulting from this, 
together with heavy meat-breakfasts, may probably have contri- 
buted to his desponding views of the world generally. 

Next to him is seated Mr. Furness, a tall young man, with 



74 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

blond hair and whiskers, who was phicked at Cambridge entirely- 
owing to his genius ; at least I know that he soon afterwards 
published a volume of poems, which were considered remarkably 
beautiful by many young ladies of his acquaintance. Mr. Fumess 
preached his own sermons, as any one of tolerable critical acumen 
might have certified by comparing them with his poems : in 
both, there was an exuberance of metaphor and simile entirely 
original, and not in the least borrowed from any resemblance in 
the things compared. 

On Mr. Fumess's left you see Mr. Pugh, another young curate, 
of much less marked characteristics. He had not published any 
poems ; he had not even been plucked ; he had neat black whiskers 
and a pale complexion ; read prayers and a sermon twice every 
Sunday, and might be seen any day sallying forth on his parochial 
duties in a white tie, a well-brushed hat, a perfect suit of black, and 
well-polished boots — an equipment which he probably supposed 
hieroglyphically to represent the spirit of Christianity to the 
parishioners of Whittlecombe. 

Mr. Pugh's vis-ct-vis is the Rev. Martin Cleves, a man about 
forty — middle-sized, broad-shouldered, with a negligently tied 
cravat, large irregular features, and a large head thickly covered 
with lanky, brown hair. To a superficial glance, Mr. Cleves is 
the plainest and least clerical-looking of the party ; yet, strange 
to say, there is the true parish priest, the pastor beloved, con- 
sulted, relied on by his flock ; a clergyman who is not associated 
with the undertaker, but thought of as the surest helper under 
a difficulty, as a monitor who is encouraging rather than severe. 
Mr. Cleves has the wonderful art of preaching sermons which 
the wheelwright and the blacksmith can understand ; not because 
he talks condescending twaddle, but because he can call a spade 
a spade, and knows how to disencumber ideas of their wordy 
frippery. Look at him more attentively, and you will see that 
his face is a very interesting one — that there is a great deal of 
humour and feeling playing in his grey eyes, and about the 
corners of his roughly cut mouth : — a man, you observe, who has 
most likely sprung from the harder -working section of the 
middle class, and has hereditary sympathies with the checkered 
life of the people. He gets together the working men in his 
parish on a Monday evening, and gives them a sort of con- 
versational lecture on useful practical matters, telling them 
stories, or reading some select passages from an agreeable book, 
and commenting on them ; and if you were to ask the first 
labourer or artisan in Tripplegate what sort of man the parson 
was, he would say, — * a uncommon knowin', sensible, free-spoken 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 75 

gentleman ; very kind an' good-natur'd too.' Yet for all this, 
he is perhaps the best Grecian of the party, if we except Mr. 
Baird, the young man on his left. 

Mr. Baird has since gained considerable celebrity as an original 
writer and metropolitan lecturer, but at that time he used to 
preach in a little church something like a barn, to a congregation 
consisting of three rich farmers and their servants, about fifteen 
labourers, and the due proportion of women and children. The 
rich farmers understood him to be * very high learnt ' ; but if you 
had interrogated them for a more precise description, they would 
have said that he was ' a thinnish-faced man, with a sort o' cast 
in his eye, like.' 

Seven, altogether: a delightful number for a dinner-party, 
supposing the units to be delightful, but everything depends on 
that. During dinner Mr. Fellowes took the lead in the conversa- 
tion, which set strongly in the direction of mangold- wurzel and the 
rotation of crops ; for Mr. Fellowes and Mr. Cleves cultivated their 
own glebes. Mr. Ely, too, had some agricultural notions, and even 
the Rev. Archibald Duke was made alive to that class of mundane 
subjects by the possession of some potato -ground. The two 
young curates talked a little aside during these discussions, which 
had imperfect interest for their unbeneficed minds ; and the 
transcendental and near-sighted Mr. Baird seemed to listen some- 
what abstractedly, knowing little more of potatoes and mangold- 
wurzel than that they were some form of the * Conditioned.' 

* What a hobby farming is with Lord Watling ! ' said Mr. 
Fellowes, when the cloth was being drawn. *I went over his 
farm at Tetterley with him last summer. It is really a model 
farm ; first-rate dairy, grazing and wheat land, and such splendid 
farm-buildings ! An expensive hobby, though. He sinks a good 
deal of money there, I fancy. . He has a great whim for black 
cattle, and he sends that drunken old Scotch bailiff of his to 
Scotland every year, with hundreds in his pocket, to buy these 



* By the by,' said Mr. Ely, * do you know who is the man to 
whom Lord Watling has given the Bramhill livings ? ' 

* A man named Sargent. I knew him at Oxford. His brother 
is a lawyer, and was very useful to Lord Watling in that ugly 
Brounsell affair. That's why Sargent got the living.' 

* Sargent,' said Mr. Ely. * I know him. Isn't he a showy, 
talkative fellow ; has written travels in Mesopotamia, or something 
of that sort r 

* That's the man.' 

*He was at Witherington once, as Bagshawe's curate. He 



76 SCEXES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

vot into rather bod odiHir therv, throogti some scandal about a 
flirtation, I think/ 

* Talking of soandal/ returned Mr. Fellowes, ' have you heard 
the last story about Barton ! Nisbett was telling me the other 
day that he dines alone with the Countess at six, while Mrs. 
Barton is in the kitchen acting as cook/ 

* Rather an apocryphal authority. Nisbett/ said Mr. Ely. 
'Ah/ said Mr. Cleves, with good-natured humour tw^inkling 

in his eyes, 'dejiend upon it, that is a corrupt version. The 
original text is, that they all dined together tvith six — meaning 
six children — and that Mrs. Barton is an excellent cook.' 

* I wish dining alone together may be the worst of that sad 
business,* said the Rev. Archibald Duke, in a tone implying that 
his wish was a strong figure of speech. 

' Well,' said Mr. Fellowes, filling his glass and looking jocose, 
'Barton is certainly either the greatest gull in existence, or he 
has some cunning secret, — some philtre or other to make himself 
charming in the eyes of a fair lady. It isn't all of us that can 
make conquests when our ugliness is past its bloom.' 

* The lady seemed to have made a conquest of him at the very 
outset,' said Mr. Ely. * I was immensely amused one night at 
Granby's when he was telling us her story about her husband's 
adventures. He said, " When she told me the tale, I felt I don't 
know how, — I felt it from the crown of my head to the sole of my 
feet."' 

Mr. Ely gave these words dramatically, imitating the Rev. 
Amos's fervour and symbolic action, and every one laughed except 
Mr. Duke, whose after-dinner view of things was not apt to be 
jovial. He said — 

* I think some of us ought to remonstrate with Mr. Barton on 
the scandal he is causing. He is not only imperilling his own 
soul, but the souls of his flock.' 

'Depend upon it,' said Mr. Cleves, 'there is some simple 
explanation of the whole aftair, if we only happened to know it. 
Barton has always impressed me as a right-minded man, who has 
the knack of doing himself injustice by his manner.' 

* Now / never liked Barton,' said Mr. Fellowes. ' He's not 
a gentleman. Why, he used to be on terms of intimacy with that 
canting Prior, who died a little while ago ; — a fellow who soaked 
himself with spirits, and talked of the Gospel through an inflamed 
nose.' 

'The Countess has given him more refined tastes, I daresay,' 
said Mr. Ely. 

'Well,' observed Mr. Cleves, 'the poor fellow must have a 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 77 

hard pull to get along, with his small income and large family. 
Let us hope the Countess does something towards making the pot 
boil.' 

' Not she/ said Mr. Duke ; * there are greater signs of poverty 
about them than ever." 

*Well, come,' returned Mr. Cleves, who could be caustic 
sometimes, and who was not at all fond of his reverend brother, 
Mr. Duke, * that's something in Barton's favour at all events. 
He might be poor without showing signs of poverty.' 

Mr. Duke turned rather yellow, which was his way of blushing, 
and Mr. Ely came to his relief by observing — 

* They're making a very good piece of work of Shepperton 
Church. Dolby, the architect, who has it in hand, is a very 
clever fellow.' 

*It's he who has been doing Coppleton Church,' said Mr. 
Furness. * They've got it in excellent order for the visitation.' 

This mention of the visitation suggested the Bishop, and thus 
opened a wide duct, which entirely diverted the stream of animad- 
version from that small pipe — that capillary vessel, the Rev. 
Amos Barton. 

The talk of the clergy about their Bishop belongs to the 
esoteric part of their profession ; so we will at once quit the 
dining-room at Milby Vicarage, lest we should happen to overhear 
remarks unsuited to the lay understanding, and perhaps dangerous 
to our repose of mind. 



CHAPTER VII 

I DARESAY the long residence of the Countess Czerlaski at 
Shepperton Vicarage is very puzzling to you also, dear reader, as 
well as to Mr. Barton's clerical brethren ; the more so, as I hope 
you are not in the least inclined to put that very evil interpretation 
on it which evidently found acceptance with the sallow and 
dyspeptic Mr, Duke, and with the florid and highly peptic Mr. 
Fellowes. You have seen enough, I trust, of the Rev. Amos 
Barton, to be convinced that he was more apt to fall into a 
blunder than into a sin — more apt to be deceived than to incur 
a necessity for being deceitful : and if you have a keen eye for 
physiognomy, you will have detected that the Countess Czerlaski 
loved herself far too well to get entangled in an unprofitable 
vice. 

How, then, you will say, could this fine lady choose to quarter 
herself on the establishment of a poor curate, where the carpets 
were probably falling into holes, where the attendance was limited 
to a maid-of-all-work, and where six children were running loose 
from eight o'clock in the morning till eight o'clock in the evening ? 
Surely you must be straining probability. 

Heaven forbid ! For not having a lofty imagination, as you 
perceive, and being unable to invent thrilling incidents for your 
amusement, my only merit must lie in the truth with which I 
represent to you the humble experience of ordinary fellow-mortals. 
I wish to stir your sympathy with commonplace troubles — to win 
your tears for real sorrow : sorrow such as may live next door to 
you — such as walks neither in rags nor in velvet, but in very 
ordinary decent apparel. 

Therefore, that you may dismiss your suspicions as to the 
truth of my picture, I will beg you to consider, that at the time 
the Countess Czerlaski left Camp Villa in dudgeon, she had only 
twenty pounds in her pocket, being about one-third of the income 
she possessed independently of her brother. You will then 
perceive that she was in the extremely inconvenient predicament 

• 78 



^, 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 79 

of having quarrelled, not indeed with her bread and cheese, but 
certainly with her chicken and tart — a predicament all the more 
inconvenient to her, because the habit of idleness had quite 
unfitted her for earning those necessary superfluities, and because, 
with all her fascinations, she had not secured any enthusiastic 
friends whose houses were open to her, and who were dying to 
see her. Thus she had completely checkmated herself, unless she 
could resolve on one unpleasant move — namely, to humble herself 
to her brother, and recognise his wife. This seemed quite 
impossible to her as long as she entertained the hope that he 
would make the first advances ; and in this flattering hope she 
remained month after month at Shepperton Vicarage, gracefully 
overlooking the deficiencies of accommodation, and feeling that she 
was really behaving charmingly. ' Who indeed,' she thought to 
herself, * could do otherwise, with a lovely, gentle creature like 
Milly ? I shall really be sorry to leave the poor thing.' 

So, though she lay in bed till ten, and came down to a separate 
breakfast at eleven, she kindly consented to dine as early as five, 
when a hot joint was prepared, which coldly furnished forth the 
children's table the next day ; she considerately prevented Milly 
from devoting herself too closely to the children, by insisting on 
reading, talking, and walking with her ; and she even began to 
embroider a cap for the next baby, which must certainly be a 
girl, and be named Caroline. 

After the first month or two of her residence at the Vicarage, 
the Kev. Amos Barton became aware — as, indeed, it was un- 
avoidable that he should — of the strong disapprobation it drew 
upon him, and the change of feeling towards him which it was 
producing in his kindest parishioners. But, in the first place, he 
still believed in the Countess as a charming and influential woman, 
disposed to befriend him, and, in any case, he could hardly hint 
departure to a lady guest who had been kind to him and his, and 
who might any day spontaneously announce the termination of 
her visit ; in the second place, he was conscious of his own 
innocence, and felt some contemptuous indignation towards people 
who were ready to imagine evil of him ; and, lastly, he had, as I 
have already intimated, a strong will of his own, so that a certain 
obstinacy and defiance mingled itself with his other feelings on 
the subject. 

The one unpleasant consequence which was not to be evaded or 
counteracted by any mere mental state, was the increasing drain 
on his slender purse for household expenses, to meet which the 
remittance he had received from the clerical charity threatened to 
be quite inadequate. Slander may be defeated by equanimity ; but 



80 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

courageous thoughts will not pay your baker's bill, and fortitude 
is nowhere considered legal tender for beef. Month after month 
the financial aspect of the Rev. Amos's aflfairs became more and 
more serious to him, and month after month, too, wore away 
more and more of that armour of indignation and defiance with 
which he had at first defended himself from the harsh looks of 
faces that were once the friendliest. 

But quite the heaviest pressure of the trouble fell on Milly — 
on gentle, uncomplaining Milly — whose delicate body was becoming 
daily less fit for all the many things that had to be done between 
rising up and lying down. At first, she thought the Countess's 
visit would not last long, and she was quite glad to incur extra 
exertion for the sake of making her friend comfortable. I can 
hardly bear to think of all the rough work she did with those 
lovely hands — all by the sly, without letting her husband know 
anything about it, and husbands are not clairvoyant : how she 
salted bacon, ironed shirts and cravats, put patches on patches, 
and re-darned darns. Then there was the task of mending and 
eking out baby -linen in prospect, and the problem perpetually 
suggesting itself how she and Nanny should manage when there 
was another baby, as there would be before very many months 
were past. 

When time glided on, and the Countess's visit did not end, 
Milly was not blind to any phase of their position. She knew of 
the slander ; she was aware of the keeping aloof of old friends ; 
but these she felt almost entirely on her husband's account. A 
loving woman's world lies within the four walls of her own home ; 
and it is only through her husband that she is in any electric com- 
munication with the world beyond. Mrs. Simpkins may have 
looked scornfully at her, but baby crows and holds out his little 
arms none the less blithely ; Mrs. Tomkins may have left off 
calling on her, but her husband comes home none the less to 
receive her care and caresses ; it has been wet and gloomy out of 
doors to-day, but she has looked well after the shirt buttons, has 
cut out baby's pinafores, and half finished Willy's blouse. 

So it was with Milly. She was only vexed that her husband 
should be vexed — only wounded because he was misconceived. 
But the difficulty about ways and means she felt in quite a different 
manner. Her rectitude was alarmed lest they should have to make 
tradesmen wait for their money ; her motherly love dreaded the 
diminution of comforts for the children ; and the sense of her own 
failing health gave exaggerated force to these fears. 

Milly could no longer shut her eyes to the fact, that the 
Countess was inconsiderate, if she did not allow herself to 




Nanny and Mr. Ja£ob Tomms. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 83 

entertain severer thoughts ; and she began to feel that it would 
soon be a duty to tell her frankly that they really could not afford 
to have her visit farther prolonged. But a processwas going forward 
in two other minds, which ultimately saved Milly from having to 
perform this painful task. 

In the first place, the Countess was getting weary of Shepperton 
— weary of waiting for her brother's overtures which never came ; 
so, one fine morning, she reflected that forgiveness was a 
Christian duty, that a sister should be placable, that Mr. Bridmain 
must feel the need of her advice, to which he had been accustomed 
for three yea'rs, and that very likely * that woman ' didn't make 
the poor man happy. In this amiable frame of mind she wrote 
a very affectionate appeal, and addressed it to Mr. Bridmain, 
through his banker. 

Another mind that was being wrought up to a climax was 
Nanny's, the maid-of-all-work, who had a warm heart and a still 
warmer temper. Nanny adored her mistress : she had been 
heard to say, that she was 'ready to kiss the ground as the 
missis trod on ' ; and Walter, she considered, was her baby, of 
whom she was as jealous as a lover. But she had, from the first, 
very slight admiration for the Countess Czerlaski. That lady, 
from Nanny's point of view, was a personage always * drawed out 
i' fine clothes,' the chief result of whose existence was to cause 
additional bed-making, carrying of hot water, laying of table- 
cloths, and cooking of dinners. It was a perpetually heightening 
' aggravation ' to Nanny that she and her mistress had to * slave ' 
more than ever, because there was this fine lady in the house. 

'An' she pays nothin' for't neither,' observed Nanny to Mr. 
Jacob Tomms, a young gentleman in the tailoring line, who 
occasionally — simply out of a taste for dialogue — looked into 
the Vicarage kitchen of an evening. * I know the master's 
shorter o' money than iver, an' it meks no end o' difference i' 
th' housekeepin' — her bein' here, besides bein' obliged to have 
a charwoman constant.' 

* There's fine stories i' the village about her,' said Mr. Tomms. 
*They say as Muster Barton's great wi' her, or else she'd niver 
stop here.' 

* Then they say a passill o' lies, an' you ought to be ashamed to 
go an' tell em' o'er again. Do you think as the master, as has got 
a wife like the missis, 'ud go running arter a stuck-up piece o' 
goods like that Countess, as isn't fit to black the missis's shoes ? 
I'm none so fond o' the master, but I know better on him nor 
that.' 

' Well, I didn't b'lieve it,' said Mr. Tomms, humbly. 



84 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* B'lieve it ? you'd ha' been a ninny if yer did. An' she's a 
nasty, stingy thing, that Countess. She's niver giv me a six- 
pence nor an old rag neither, sin' here she's been. A-lyin' a-bed 
an' a-comin' down to breakfast when other folks wants their 
dinner ! ' 

If such was the state of Nanny's mind as early as the end of 
August, when this dialogue with Mr. Tomms occurred, you may 
imagine what it must have been by the beginning of November, 
and that at that time a very slight spark might any day cause 
the long-smouldering anger to flame forth in open indignation. 

That spark happened to fall the very morning that Mrs. Hackit 
paid the visit to Mrs. Patten, recorded in the last chapter. 
Nanny's dislike of the Countess extended to the innocent dog Jet, 
whom she * couldn't a-bear to see made a fuss wi' like a Christian. 
An' the little ouzel must be washed, too, ivery Saturday, as if 
there wasn't children enoo to wash, wi'out washin' dogs.' 

Now this particular morning it happened that Milly was 
quite too poorly to get up, and Mr. Barton observed to Nanny, 
on going out, that he would call and tell Mr. Brand to come. 
These circumstances were already enough to make Nanny anxious 
and susceptible. But the Countess, comfortably ignorant of 
them, came down as usual about eleven o'clock to her separate 
breakfast, which stood ready for her at that hour in the parlour ; 
the kettle singing on the hob that she might make her own tea. 
There was a little jug of cream, taken according to custom from 
last night's milk, and specially saved for the Countess's breakfast. 
Jet always awaited his mistress at her bedroom door, and it was 
her habit to carry him downstairs. 

'Now, my little Jet,' she said, putting him down gently on 
the hearth-rug, * you shall have a nice, nice breakfast.' 

Jet indicated that he thought that observation extremely 
pertinent and well-timed, by immediately raising himself on his 
hind-legs, and the Countess emptied the cream-jug into the 
saucer. Now there was usually a small jug of milk standing 
on the tray by the side of the cream, and destined for Jet's 
breakfast, but this morning Nanny, being *moithered,' had 
forgotten that part of the arrangements, so that when the 
Countess had made her tea, she perceived there was no second 
jug, and rang the bell. Nanny appeared, looking very red and 
heated — the fact was, she had been * doing up ' the kitchen fire, 
and that is a sort of work which by no means conduces to bland- 
ness of temper. -: 

* Nanny, you have forgotten Jet's milk ; will you bring me 
some more cream, please 1 ' 



■'''^C4(^ 



^^^^ 



..■.-■i^^^s*;:;^' ;.4 







Jet's breakfast. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 87 

This was just a little too much for Nanny's forbearance. 

' Yes, I daresay. Here am I wi' my hands full o' the children 
an' the dinner, and missis ill a -bed, and Mr. Brand a-comin'; 
and I must run o'er the village to get more cream, 'cause you've 
give it to that nasty little blackamoor.' 

* Is Mrs. Barton ill?' 

<I11 — ^yes — I should think she is ill, and much you care. 
She's likely to be ill, moithered as she is from mornin' to night, 
wi' folks as had better be elsewhere.' 

* What do you mean by behaving in this way ? ' 

' Mean ? Why, I mean as the missis is a-slavin' her life out 
an' a-sittin' up o' nights, for folks as are better able to wait of 
ke?^, i'stid o' lyin' a-bed an' doin' nothin' all the blessed day, but 
mek work.' 

* Leave the room and don't be insolent.' 

' Insolent ! I'd better be insolent than like what some folks 
is, — a-livin' on other folks, an' bringin' a bad name on 'em into 
the bargain.' 

Here Nanny flung out of the room, leaving the lady to digest 
this unexpected breakfast at her leisure. 

The Countess was stunned for a few minutes, but when she 
began to recall Nanny's words, there was no possibility of avoiding 
very unpleasant conclusions from them, or of failing to see her 
position at the Vicarage in an entirely new light. The interpreta- 
tion too of Nanny's allusion to a ^ bad name ' did not lie out of 
the reach of the Countess's imagination, and she saw the necessity 
of quitting Shepperton without delay. Still, she would like to 
wait for her brother's letter — no — she would ask Milly to forward 
it to her — still better, she would go at once to London, inquire 
her brother's address at his banker's, and go to see him without 
preliminary. 

She went up to Milly's room, and, after kisses and inquiries, 
said — * I find, on consideration, dear Milly, from the letter I had 
yesterday, that I must bid you good-bye and go up to London at 
once. But you must not let me leave you ill, you naughty thing.' 

' Oh no,' said Milly, who felt as if a load had been taken off 
her back, ' I shall be very well in an hour or two. Indeed, I'm 
much better now. You will want me to help you to pack. But 
you won't go for two or three days ? ' 

*Yes, I must go to-morrow. But I shall not let you help 
me to pack, so don't entertain any unreasonable projects, but lie 
still. Mr. Brand is coming, Nanny says.' 

The news was not an unpleasant surprise to Mr. Barton when 
he came home, though he was able to express more regret at the 



88 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

idea of parting than Milly could summon to her lips. He 
retained more of his original feeling for the Countess than Milly 
did, for women never betray themselves to men as they do to 
each other; and the Rev. Amos had not a keen instinct for 
character. But he felt that he was being relieved from a 
difl&culty, and in the way that was easiest for him. Neither he 
nor Milly suspected that it was Nanny who had cut the knot 
for them, for the Countess took care to give no sign on that 
subject. As for Nanny, she was perfectly aware of the relation 
between cause and effect in the affair, and secretly chuckled over 
her outburst of * sauce ' as the best morning's work she had ever 
done. 

So, on Friday morning, a fly was seen standing at the Vicarage 
gate with the Countess's boxes packed upon it; and presently 
that lady herself was seen getting into the vehicle. After a 
last shake of the hand to Mr. Barton, and last kisses to Milly and 
the children, the door was closed ; and as the fly rolled off, the 
little party at the Vicarage gate caught a last glimpse of the 
handsome Countess leaning and waving kisses from the carriage 
window. Jet's little black phiz was also seen, and doubtless he 
had his thoughts and feelings on the occasion, but he kept them 
strictly within his own bosom. 

The schoolmistress opposite witnessed this departure, and lost 
no time in telling it to the schoolmaster, who again communicated 
the news to the landlord of * The Jolly Colliers,' at the close of 
the morning school-hours. Nanny poured the joyful tidings into 
the ear of Mr. Farquhar's footman, who happened to call with a 
letter, and Mr. Brand carried them to all the patients he visited 
that morning, after calling on Mrs. Barton. So that, before 
Sunday, it was very generally known in Shepperton parish that 
the Countess Czerlaski had left the Vicarage. 

The Countess had left, but, alas, the bills she had contributed 
to swell still remained ; so did the exiguity of the children's 
clothing, which also was partly an indirect consequence of her 
presence ; and so, too, did the coolness and alienation in the 
parishioners, which could not at once vanish before the fact of her 
departure. The Rev. Amos was not exculpated — the past was 
not expunged. But what was worse than all, Milly 's health gave 
frequent cause for alarm, and the prospect of baby's birth was 
overshadowed by more than the usual fears. The birth came 
prematurely, about six weeks after the Countess's departure, but 
Mr. Brand gave favourable reports to all inquirers on the following 
day, which was Saturday. On Sunday, after morning service, 
Mrs. Hackit called at the Vicarage to inquire how Mrs. Barton 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 89 

was, aiid was invited upstairs to see her. Milly lay placid and 
lovely in her feebleness, and held out her hand to Mrs. Hackit 
with a beaming smile. It was very pleasant to her to see her 
old friend unreserved and cordial once more. The seven months* 
baby was very tiny and very red, but * handsome is that hand- 
some does' — he was pronounced to be * doing well,' and Mrs. 
Hackit went home gladdened at heart to think that the perilous 
hour was over. 



CHAPTER VIII 

The following Wednesday, when Mr. and Mrs. Hackit were 
seated comfortably by their bright hearth, enjoying the long after- 
noon afforded by an early dinner, Rachel, the housemaid, came in 
and said — 

* If you please 'm, the shepherd says, have you heard as Mrs. 
Barton's wuss, and not expected to live ? ' 

Mrs. Hackit turned pale, and hurried out to question the 
shepherd, who, she found, had heard the sad news at an ale-house in 
the village. Mr. Hackit followed her out and said, ' You'd better 
have the pony-chaise, and go directly.' 

*Yes,' said Mrs. Hackit, too much overcome to utter any 
exclamations. 'Rachel, come an' help me on wi' my things.' 
When her husband was wrapping her cloak round her feet in the 
pony-chaise, she said — 

* If I don't come home to-night, I shall send back the pony- 
chaise, and you'll know I'm wanted there.' 

*Yes, yes.' 

It was a bright frosty day, and by the time Mrs. Hackit 
arrived at the Vicarage, the sun was near its setting. There was 
a carriage and pair standing at the gate, which she recognised as 
Dr. Madeley's, the physician from Rotherby. She entered at the 
kitchen door that she might avoid knocking, and quietly question 
Nanny. No one was in the kitchen, but, passing on, she saw the 
sitting-room door open, and Nanny, with Walter in her arms, 
removing the knives and forks, which had been laid for dinner 
three hours ago. 

'Master says he can't eat no dinner,' was Nanny's first word. 
* He's never tasted nothin' sin' yesterday mornin' but a cup 
o' tea.' 

' When was your missis took worse 1 ' 

* 0' Monday night. They sent for Dr. Madeley i' the middle o' 
the day yisterday, an' he's here again now.' 

* Is the baby alive 'I ' 

90 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 91 

*No, it died last night. The children's all at Mrs Bond's. 
She come and took 'em away last night, but the master says they 
must be fetched soon. He's upstairs now, wi' Dr. Madeley and 
Mr. Brand.' 

At this moment Mrs. Hackit heard the sound of a heavy, slow 
foot in the passage ; and presently Amos Barton entered, with dry 
despairing eyes, haggard and unshaven. He expected to find the 
sitting-room as he left it, with nothing to meet his eyes but Milly's 
work-basket in the comer of the sofa, and the children's toys 
overturned in the bow-window. But when he saw Mrs. Hackit 
come towards him with answering sorrow in her face, the pent-up 
fountain of tears was opened ; he threw himself on the sofa, hid 
his face, and sobbed aloud. 

* Bear up, Mr. Barton,' Mrs. Hackit ventured to say at last ; 
* bear up, for the sake o' them dear children.' 

* The children,' said Amos, starting up. * They must be sent 
for. Some one must fetch them. Milly will want to . . . .' 

He couldn't finish the sentence, but Mrs. Hackit understood 
him, and said, * I'll send the man with the pony-carriage for 'em.' 

She went out to give the order, and encountered Dr. Madeley 
and Mr. Brand, who were just going. 

Mr. Brand said : * I am very glad to see you are here, Mrs. 
Hackit. No time must be lost in sending for the children. Mrs. 
Barton wants to see them.' 

' Do you quite give her up, then ? ' 

*She can hardly live through the night. She begged us to 
tell her how long she had to live ; and then asked for the children.' 

The pony-carriage was sent ; and Mrs. Hackit, returning to Mr. 
Barton, said she should like to go upstairs now. He went upstairs 
with her and opened the door. The chamber fronted the west; the 
sun was just setting, and the red light fell full upon the bed, where 
Milly lay with the hand of death visibly upon her. The feather-bed 
had been removed, and she lay low on a mattress, with her head 
slightly raised by pillows. Her long fair neck seemed to be 
struggling with a painful effort ; her features were pallid and 
pinched, and her eyes were closed. There was no one in the room 
but the nurse, and the mistress of the free school, who had come 
to give her help from the beginning of the change. 

Amos and Mrs. Hackit stood beside the bed, and Milly opened 
her eyes. 

* My darling, Mrs. Hackit is come to see you.' 

Milly smiled and looked at her with that strange, far-oflf look 
which belongs to ebbing life. 

* Are the children coming 1 ' she said, painfully. 



92 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Yes, they will be here directly.' 
She closed her eyes again. 

Presently the pony-carriage was heard ; and Amos, motioning 
to Mrs. Hackit to follow him, left the room. On their way down- 
stairs, she suggested that the carriage should remain to take them 
away again afterwards, and Amos assented. 

There they stood in the melancholy sitting-room — the five 
sweet children, from Patty to Chubby — all, with their mother's 
eyes — ^all, except Patty, looking up with a vague fear at their 
father as he entered. Patty understood the great sorrow that was 
come upon them, and tried to check her sobs as she heard her 
papa's footsteps. 

*My children,' said Amos, taking Chubby in his arms, *God 
is going to take away your dear mamma from us. She wants to 
see you to say good-bye. You must try to be very good and 
not cry.' 

He could say no more, but turned round to see if Nanny was 
there with Walter, and then led the way upstairs, leading Dickey 
with the other hand. Mrs. Hackit followed with Sophy and 
Patty, and then came Nanny with Walter and Fred. 

It seemed as if Milly had heard the little footsteps on the 
stairs, for when Amos entered her eyes were wide open, eagerly 
looking towards the door. They all stood by the bedside — Amos 
nearest to her, holding Chubby and Dickey. But she motioned 
for Patty to come first, and clasping the poor pale child by the 
hand, said — 

* Patty, I'm going away from you. Love your papa. Comfort 
him ; and take care of your little brothers and sisters. Grod will 
help you.' 

Patty stood perfectly quiet, and said, * Yes, mamma.' 
The mother motioned with her pallid lips for the dear child to 
lean towards her and kiss her ; and then Patty's great anguish 
overcame her, and she burst into sobs. Amos drew her towards 
him and pressed her head gently to him, while Milly beckoned 
Fred and Sophy, and said to them more faintly — 

* Patty will try to be your mamma when I am gone, my 
darlings. You will be good and not vex her.' 

They leaned towards her, and she stroked their fair heads 
and kissed their tear-stained cheeks. They cried because mamma 
was ill and papa looked so unhappy ; but they thought, perhaps 
next week things would be as they used to be again. 

The little ones were lifted on the bed to kiss her. Little 
Walter said, * Mamma, mamma,' and stretched out his fat arms 
and smiled ; and Chubby seemed gravely wondering ; but Dickey, 









I * 

I ^ 

I I 




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Looking «/ w///t rt vague /car. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 95 

who had been looking fixedly at her, with lip hanging down, ever 
since he came into the room, now seemed suddenly pierced with 
the idea that mamma was going away somewhere ; his little heart 
swelled, and he cried aloud. 

Then Mrs. Hackit and Nanny took them all away. Patty at 
first begged to stay at home and not go to Mrs. Bond's again ; but 
when Nanny reminded her that she had better go to take care of 
the younger ones, she submitted at once, and they were all packed 
in the pony-carriage once more. 

Milly kept her eyes shut for some time after the children were 
gone. Amos had sunk on his knees, and was holding her hand 
while he watched her face. By and by she opened her eyes, and 
drawing him close to her, whispered slowly — 

* My dear — dear — husband — you have been — very — good to 
me. You — have — made me — very — happy.' 

She spoke no more for many hours. They watched her 
breathing becoming more and more difficult, until evening 
deepened into night, and until midnight was past. About half- 
past twelve she seemed to be trying to speak, and they leaned to 
catch her words. 

' Music — music — didn't you hear it ? ' 

Amos knelt by the bed and held her hand in his. He did not 
believe in his sorrow. It was a bad dream. He did not know 
when she was gone. But Mr. Brand, whom Mrs. Hackit had 
sent for before twelve o'clock, thinking that Mr. Barton might 
probably need his help, now came up to him, and said — 

*She feels no more pain now. Come, my dear sir, come 
with me.' 

' She isn't dead ? ' shrieked the poor desolate man, struggling 
to shake off Mr. Brand, who had taken him by the arm. But his 
weary weakened frame was not equal to resistance, and he was 
dragged out of the room. 



CHAPTER IX 

They laid her in the grave — the sweet mother with her baby in 
her arms — while the Christmas snow lay thick upon the graves. 
It was Mr. Cleves who buried her. On the first news of Mr. 
Barton's calamity, he had ridden over from Tripplegate to beg 
that he might be made of some use, and his silent grasp of Amos's 
hand had penetrated like the painful thrill of life -recovering 
warmth to the poor benumbed heart of the stricken man. 

The snow lay thick upon the graves, and the day was cold and 
dreary ; but there was many a sad eye watching that black 
procession as it passed from the Vicarage to the church, and from 
the church to the open grave. There were men and women 
standing in that churchyard who had bandied vulgar jests about 
their pastor, and who had lightly charged him with sin ; but now, 
when they saw him following the coffin, pale and haggard, he was 
consecrated anew by his great sorrow, and they looked at him 
with respectful pity. 

All the children were there, for Amos had willed it so, 
thinking that some dim memory of that sacred moment might 
remain even with little Walter, and link itself with what he 
would hear of his sweet mother in after years. He himself led 
Patty and Dickey ; then came Sophy and Fred ; Mr. Brand had 
begged to carry Chubby, and Nanny followed with Walter. They 
made a circle round the grave while the coffin was being lowered. 
Patty alone of all the children felt that mamma was in that 
coffin, and that a new and sadder life had begun for papa and 
herself. She was pale and trembling, but she clasped his hand 
more firmly as the coffin went down, and gave no sob. Fred and 
Sophy, though they were only two and three years younger, and 
though they had seen mamma in her coffin, seemed to themselves 
to be looking at some strange show. They had not learned to 
decipher that terrible handwriting of human destiny, illness and 
death. Dickey had rebelled against his black clothes, until he 
was told that it would be naughty to mamma not to put thena 

96 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 97 

on, when he at once submitted ; and now, though he had heard 
Nanny say that mamma was in heaven, he had a vague notion 
that she would come home again to-morrow, and say he had been 
a good boy and let him empty her work-box. He stood close to 
his father, with great rosy cheeks, and wide-open blue eyes, 
looking first up at Mr. Cleves and then down at the coffin, and 
thinking he and Chubby would play at that when they got 
home. 

The burial was over, and Amos turned with his children to 
re-enter the house — the house where, an hour ago, Milly's dear 
body lay, where the windows were half-darkened, and sorrow 
seemed to have a hallowed precinct for itself, shut out from the 
world. But now she was gone ; the broad snow-reflected daylight 
was in all the rooms ; the Vicarage again seemed part of the 
common working- day world, and Amos, for the first time, felt 
that he was alone — that day after day, month after month, year 
after year, would have to be lived through without Milly's love. 
Spring would come, and she would not be there ; summer, and 
she would not be there ; and he would never have her again with 
him by the fireside in the long evenings. The seasons all seemed 
irksome to his thoughts ; and how dreary the sunshiny days that 
would be sure to come ! She was gone from him ; and he could 
never show her his love any more, never make up for omissions in 
the past by filling future days with tenderness. 

Oh the anguish of that thought that we can never atone to 
our dead for the stinted affection we gave them, for the light 
answers we returned to their plaints or their pleadings, for the 
little reverence we showed to that sacred human soul that 
lived so close to us, and was the divinest thing God had given 
us to know ! 

Amos Barton had been an affectionate husband, and while 
Milly was with him, he was never visited by the thought that 
perhaps his sympathy with her was not quick and watchful 
enough ; but now he relived all their life together, with that 
terrible keenness of memory and imagination which bereavement 
gives, and he felt as if his very love needed a pardon for its 
poverty and selfishness. 

No outward solace could counteract the bitterness of this 
inward woe. But outward solace came. Cold faces looked kind 
again, and parishioners turned over in their minds what they 
could best do to help their pastor. Mr. Oldinport wrote to 
express his sympathy, and enclosed another twenty-pound note, 
begging that he might be permitted to contribute in this way to 
the relief of Mr. Barton's mind from pecuniary anxieties, under 

H 



98 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the pressure of a ^ef which all his parishioners must share ; and 
ofFerinjij his interest towards placin^: the two eldest girls in a 
school exi)ressly founded for clergymen's daughters. Mr. Cleves 
succeede<l in collecting thirty iK)unds among his richer clerical 
brethren, and, adding ten pounds himself, sent the sum to Amos, 
with the kindest and most delicate words of Christian fellowship 
and manly friendship. Miss Jackson forgot old grievances, and 
came to stay some months with Milly's children, bringing such 
material aid as she could spare from her small income. These 
were substantial helps, which reliered Amos from the pressure 
of his money difficulties ; and the friendly attentions, the kind 
pressure of the hand, the cordial looks he met with everywhere 
in his parish, made him feel that the fatal frost which had settled 
on his pastoral duties, during the Countess's residence at the 
Vicarage, was completely thawed, and that the hearts of his 
parishioners were once more open to him. 

No one breathed the Countess's name now ; for Milly's 
memory hallowed her husband, as of old the place was hallowed 
on which an angel from God had alighted. 

When the spring came, Mrs. Hackit begged that she might 
have Dickey to stay with her, and great was the enlargement 
of Dickey's experience from that visit. Every morning he was 
allowed — being well wrapt up as to his chest by Mrs. Hackit's own 
hands, but very bare and red as to his legs — to run loose in the 
cow and poultry yard, to persecute the turkey-cock by satirical 
imitations of his gobble-gobble, and to put difficult questions to 
the groom as to the reasons why horses had four legs, and other 
transcendental matters. Then Mr. Hackit would take Dickey up 
on horseback when he rode round his farm, and Mrs. Hackit had 
a large plum-cake in cut, ready to meet incidental attacks of 
hunger. So that Dickey had considerably modified his views as 
to the desirability of Mrs. Hackit's kisses. 

The Misses Farquhar made particular pets of Fred and Sophy, 
to whom they undertook to give lessons twice a week in writing 
and geography ; and Mrs. Farquhar devised many treats for the 
little ones. Patty's treat was to stay at home, or walk about 
with her papa ; and when he sat by the fire in an evening, after 
the other children were gone to bed, she would bring a stool, and, 
placing it against his feet, would sit down upon it and lean her 
head against his knee. Then his hand would rest on that fair 
head, and he would feel that Milly's love was not quite gone out 
of liis life. 

So the time wore on till it was May again, and the church 
was quite finished and reopened in all its new splendour, and Mr. 



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Mr. Hack it would take Dickey up on horseback/ 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON d9 

Barton was devoting himself with more vigour than ever to his 
parochial duties. But one morning — it was a very bright 
morning, and evil tidings sometimes like to fly in the finest 
weather — there came a letter for Mr. Barton, addressed in the 
Vicar's handwriting. Amos opened it with some anxiety — 
somehow or other he had a presentiment of evil. The letter 
contained the announcement that Mr. Carpe had resolved on 
coming to reside at Shepperton, and that, consequently, in six 
months from that time Mr. Barton's duties as curate in that 
parish would be closed. 

Oh, it was hard ! Just when Shepperton had become the 
place where he most wished to stay — where he had friends who 
knew his sorrows — where he lived close to Milly's grave. To 
part from that grave seemed like parting with Milly a second 
time ; for Amos was one who clung to all the material links 
between his mind and the past. His imagination was not vivid, 
and required the stimulus of actual perception. 

It roused some bitter feeling, too, to think that Mr. Carpe's 
wish to reside at Shepperton was merely a pretext for removing 
Mr. Barton, in order that he might ultimately give the curacy of 
Shepperton to his own brother-in-law, who was known to be 
wanting a new position. 

Still, it must be borne ; and the painful business of seeking 
another curacy must be set about without loss of time. After 
the lapse of some months, Amos was obliged to renounce the 
hope of getting one at all near Shepperton, and he at length 
resigned himself to accepting one in a distant county. The parish 
was in a large manufacturing town, where his walks would lie 
among noisy streets and dingy alleys, and where the children 
would have no garden to play in, no pleasant farmhouses 
to visit. 

It was another blow inflicted on the bruised man. 



CHAPTER X 

At length the dreaded week was come, when Amos and his 
children must leave Shepperton. There was general regret 
among the parishioners at his departure: not that any one of 
them thought his spiritual gifts pre-eminent, or was conscious of 
great edification from his ministry. But his recent troubles had 
called out their better sympathies, and that is always a source of 
love. Amos failed to touch the spring of goodness by his sermons, 
but he touched it effectually by his sorrows ; and there was now 
a real bond between him and his flock. 

* My heart aches for them poor motherless children,' said Mrs. 
Hackit to her husband, * a-going among strangers, and into a 
nasty town, where there's no good victuals to be had, and you 
must pay dear to get bad uns.' 

Mrs. Hackit had a vague notion of a town life as a 
combination of dirty backyards, measly pork, and dingy linen. 

The same sort of sympathy was strong among the poorer class 
of parishioners. Old stiff-jointed Mr. Tozer, who was still able 
to earn a little by gardening *jobs,' stopped Mrs. Cramp, the 
charwoman, on her way home from the Vicarage, where she had 
been helping Nanny to pack up the day before the departure, 
and inquired very particularly into Mr. Barton's prospects. 

* Ah, poor mon,' he was heard to say, ' I'm sorry for un. He 
hedn't much here, but he'll be wuss off theer. Half a loafs better 
nor ne'er un.' 

The sad good-byes had all been said before that last evening ; 
and after all the packing was done and all the arrangements were 
made, Amos felt the oppression of that blank interval in which 
one has nothing left to think of but the dreary future — the 
separation from the loved and familiar, and the chilling entrance 
on the new and strange. In every parting there is an image of 
death. 

Soon after ten o'clock, when he had sent Nanny to bed, that 
she might have a good night's rest before the fatigues of the 

100 







Millys Grave. 



,■11 ^^t'->f^ 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON 103 

morrow, he stole softly out to pay a last visit to Milly's grave. 
It was a moonless night, but the sky was thick with stars, and 
their light was enough to show that the grass had grown long on 
the grave, and that there was a tombstone telling in bright letters, 
on a dark ground, that beneath were deposited the remains of 
Amelia, the beloved wife of Amos Barton, who died in the 
thirty-fifth year of her age, leaving a husband and six children to 
lament her loss. The final words of the inscription were, * Thy 
will be done.' 

The husband was now advancing towards the dear mound 
from which he was so soon to be parted, perhaps for ever. He 
stood a few minutes reading over and over again the words on the 
tombstone, as if to assure himself that all the happy and unhappy 
past was a reality. For love is frightened at the intervals of 
insensibility and callousness that encroach by little and little on 
the dominion of grief, and it makes efforts to recall the keenness 
of the first anguish. 

Gradually, as his eye. dwelt on the words, * Amelia, the 
beloved wife,' the waves of feeling swelled within his soul, and he 
threw himself on the grave, clasping it with his arms, and kissing 
the cold turf. 

* Milly, Milly, dost thou hear me ? I didn't love thee enough 
— ^I wasn't tender enough to thee — but I think of it all now.' 

The sobs came and choked his utterance, and the warm tears 
fell. 



CONCLUSION 

Only once again in his life has Amos Barton visited Milly's 
grave. It was in the calm and softened light of an autumnal 
afternoon, and he was not alone. He held on his arm a young 
woman, with a sweet, grave face, which strongly recalled the 
expression of Mrs. Barton's, but was less lovely in form and 
colour. She was about thirty, but there were some premature 
lines round her mouth and eyes, which told of early anxiety. 

Amos himself was much changed. His thin circlet of hair 
was nearly white, and his walk was no longer firm and upright. 
But his glance was calm, and even cheerful, and his neat linen 
told of a woman's care. Milly did not take all her love from the 
earth when she died. She had left some of it in Patty's heart. 

All the other children were now grown up, and had gone their 
several ways. Dickey, you will be glad to hear, had shown 
remarkable talents as an engineer. His cheeks are still ruddy, 
in spite of mixed mathematics, and his eyes are still large and 
blue ; but in other respects his person would present no marks of 
identification for his friend Mrs. Hackit, if she were to see him ; 
especially now that her eyes must be grown very dim, with the 
wear of more than twenty additional years. He is nearly six 
feet high, and has a proportionately broad chest ; he wears 
spectacles, and rul)s his large white hands through a mass of 
shaggy brown hair. But I am sure you have no doubt that Mr. 
Richard Barton is a thoroughly good fellow, as well as a man of 
talent, and you will be glad any day to shake hands with him, 
for his own sake as well as his mother's. 

Patty alone remains by her father's side, and makes the 
evening sunshine of his life. 



104 



ME. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 



105 



CHAPTER I 

When old Mr Gilfil died, thirty years ago, there was general 
sorrow in Shepperton : and if black cloth had not been hung 
round the pulpit and reading-desk, by order of his nephew and 
principal legatee, the parishioners would certainly have subscribed 
the necessary sum out of their own pockets, rather than allow 
such a tribute of respect to be wanting. All the farmers' wives 
brought out their black bombasines ; and Mrs. Jennings, at 
the Wharf, by appearing the first Sunday after Mr. Gilfil's death 
in her salmon-coloured ribbons and green shawl, excited the 
severest remark. To be sure, Mrs. Jennings was a newcomer, 
and town-bred, so that she could hardly be expected to have 
very clear notions of what was proper; but as Mrs. Higgins 
observed in an undertone to Mrs. Parrot when they were coming 
out of church, *Her husband, who'd been born i' the parish, 
might ha' told her better.' An unreadiness to put on black on 
all available occasions, or too great an alacrity in putting it off, 
argued, in Mrs. Higgins's opinion, a dangerous levity of character 
and an unnatural insensibility to the essential fitness of things. 

* Some folks can't a-bear to put off their colours,' she remarked ; 
* but that was never the way i' my family. Why, Mrs. Parrot, 
from the time I was married, till Mr. Higgins died, nine years 
ago come Candlemas, I niver was out o' black two year together ! ' 

*Ah,' said Mrs. Parrot, who was conscious of inferiority in 
this respect, * there isn't many families as have had so many 
deaths as yours, Mrs. Higgins.' 

Mrs. Higgins, who was an elderly widow, * well left,' reflected 
with complacency that Mrs. Parrot's observation was no more 
than just, and that Mrs. Jennings very likely belonged to a family 
which had had no funerals to speak of. 

Even dirty Dame Fripp, who was a very rare church-goer, had 
been to Mrs. Hackit to beg a bit of old crape, and with this sign 
of grief pinned on her little coal-scuttle bonnet, was seen dropping 
her curtsy opposite the reading-desk. This manifestation of respect 

107 



108 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

towards Mr. Gilfil's memory on the part of Dame Fripp had no 
theological bearing whatever. It was due to an event which had 
occurred some years back, and which, I am sorry to say, had left 
that grimy old lady as indifferent to the means of grace as eyer. 
Dame Fripp kept leeches, and was understood to have such 
remarkable influence over those wilful animals in inducing them 
to bite under the most unpromising circumstances, that though her 
own leeches were usually rejected, from a suspicion that they had 
lost their appetite, she herself was constantly called in to apply 
the more lively individuals furnished from Mr. Pilgrim's surgery, 
when, as was very often the case, one of that clever man's paying 
patients was attacked with inflammation. Thus Dame Fripp, in 
addition to * property ' supposed to yield her no less than half a 
crown a week, was in the receipt of professional fees, the gross 
amount of which was vaguely estimated by her neighbours as 
* pouns an' pouns.' Moreover, she drove a brisk trade in lollipop 
with epicurean urchins, who recklessly purchased that luxury 
at the rate of two hundred per cent. Nevertheless, with all 
these notorious sources of income, the shameless old woman 
constantly pleaded poverty, and begged for scraps at Mrs. 
Hackit's, who, though she always said Mrs. Fripp was 'as false 
as two folks,' and no better than a miser and a heathen, had yet 
a leaning towards her as an old neighbour. 

* There's that case-hardened old Judy a-coming after the tea.- 
leaves again,' Mrs. Hackit would say ; ' an' I'm fool enough to 
give 'em her, though Sally wants 'em all the while to sweep the 
floors with ! ' 

Such was Dame Fripp, whom Mr. Gilfil, riding leisurely in 
top-boots and spurs from doing duty at Knebley one warm 
Sunday afternoon, observed sitting in the dry ditch near her 
cottage, and by her side a large pig, who, with that ease and 
confidence belonging to perfect friendship, was lying with his head 
in her lap, and making no effort to play the agreeable beyond an 
occasional grunt. 

*Why, Mrs. Fripp,' said the Vicar, *I didn't know you had 
such a fine pig. You'll have some rare flitches at Christmas ! ' 

* Eh, God forbid ! My son gev him me two 'ear ago, 
an' he's been company to me iver sin'. I couldn't find i' 
my heart to part wi'm, if I niver knowed the taste o' bacon-fat 
again.' 

*Why, he'll eat his head off, and yours too. How can you 
go on keeping a pig, and making nothing by him 1 ' 

* Oh, he picks a bit hisself wi' rootin', and I dooant mind 
doing wi'out to gi' him summat. A bit o' coompany's meat an' 



.--^^^ 



¥^% jsm^^ 



#-f 




Dame Fripp and her pig. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 111 

drink too, an' he follers me about, and grunts when I spake to'm, 
just like a Christian.' 

Mr. Gilfil laughed, and I am obliged to admit that he said 
good-bye to Dame Fripp without asking her why she had not 
been to church, or making the slightest effort for her spiritual 
edification. But the next day he ordered his man David to take 
her a great piece of bacon, with a message, saying, the parson 
wanted to make sure that Mrs. Fripp would know the taste 
of bacon-fat again. So, when Mr. Gilfil died. Dame Fripp mani- 
fested her gratitude and reverence in the simple dingy fashion I 
have mentioned. 

You already suspect that the Vicar did not shine in the more 
spiritual functions of his office ; and indeed, the utmost I can say 
for him in this respect is, that he performed those functions 
with undeviating attention to brevity and despatch. He had a 
large heap of short sermons, rather yellow and worn at the edges, 
from which he took two every Sunday, securing perfect imparti- 
ality in the selection by taking them as they came, without 
reference to topics ; and having preached one of these sermons 
at Shepperton in the morning, he mounted his horse and rode 
hastily with the other in his pocket to Knebley, where he officiated 
in a wonderful little church, with a checkered pavement which 
had once rung to the iron tread of military monks, with coats of 
arms in clusters on the lofty roof, marble warriors and their wives 
without noses occupying a large proportion of the area, and the 
twelve apostles, with their heads very much on one side, holding 
didactic ribbons, painted in fresco on the walls. Here, in an 
absence of mind to which he was prone, Mr. Gilfil would some- 
times forget to take off his spurs before putting on his surplice, 
and only become aware of the omission by feeling something 
mysteriously tugging at the skirts of that garment as he stepped 
into the reading-desk. But the Knebley farmers would as soon 
have thought of criticising the moon as their pastor. He belonged 
to the course of nature, like markets and toll-gates and dirty 
banknotes ; and being a vicar, his claim on their veneration had 
never been counteracted by an exasperating claim on their pockets. 
Some of them, who did not indulge in the superfluity of a 
covered cart without springs, had dined half an hour earlier than 
usual — that is to say, at twelve o'clock — in order to have time 
for their long walk through miry lanes, and present themselves 
duly in their places at two o'clock, when Mr. Oldinport and 
Lady Felicia, to whom Knebley Church was a sort of family 
temple, made their way among the bows and curtsies of their 
dependants to a carved and canopied pew in the chancel, diffusing 



112 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

as they went a delicate odour of Indian roses on the unsusceptible 
nostrils of the congregation. 

The farmers' wives and children sate on the dark oaken 
benches, but the husbands usually chose the distinctive dignity 
of a stall under one of the twelve apostles, where, when the 
alternation of prayers and responses had given place to the 
agreeable monotony of the sermon, Paterfamilias might be seen 
or heard sinking into a pleasant doze, from which he infallibly 
woke up at the sound of the concluding doxology. And then 
they made their way back again through the miry lanes, perhaps 
almost as much the better for this simple weekly tribute to 
what they knew of good and right, as many a more wakeful and 
critical congregation of the present day. 

Mr. Gilfil, too, used to make his way home in the later years 
of his life, for he had given up the habit of dining at Knebley 
Abbey on a Sunday, having, I am sorry to say, had a very bitter 
quarrel with Mr. Oldinport, the cousin and predecessor of the 
Mr. Oldinport who flourished in the Rev. Amos Barton's time. 
That quarr el was a sad pity, for the two had had many a good 
day's hunting together when they were younger, and in those 
friendly times not a few members of the hunt envied Mr. 
Oldinport the excellent terms he was on with his vicar ; for, 
as Sir Jasper Sitwell observed, *next to a man's wife, there's 
nobody can be such an infernal plague to you as a parson, always 
under you nose on your own estate.' 

I fancy the original difference which led to the rupture was 
very slight ; but Mr. Gilfil was of an extremely caustic turn, his 
satire having a flavour of originality which was quite wanting in 
his sermons ; and as Mr. Oldinport's armour of conscious virtue 
presented some considerable and conspicuous gaps, the Vicar's 
keen-edged retorts probably made a few incisions too deep to be 
forgiven. Such, at least, was the view of the case presented 
by Mr. Hackit, who knew as much of the matter as any third 
person. For, the very week after the quarrel, when presiding at 
the annual dinner of the Association for the Prosecution of Felons, 
held at the Oldinport Arms, he contributed an additional zest to 
the conviviality on that occasion by informing the company that 
* the parson had given the Squire a lick with the rqugh side of his 
tongue.' The detection of the person or persons who had driven 
off Mr. Parrot's heifer could hardly have been more welcome news 
to the Shepperton tenantry, with whom Mr. Oldinport was in the 
worst odour as a landlord, having kept up his rents in spite of 
falling prices, and not being in the least stung to emulation 
by paragraphs in the provincial newspapers, stating that the 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 113 

Honourable Augustus Purwell, or Viscount Blethers, had made 
a return of ten per cent on their last rent-day. The fact was, 
Mr. Oldinport had not the slightest intention of standing for 
Parliament, whereas he had the strongest intention of adding to 
his unentailed estate. Hence, to the Shepperton farmers it was 
as good as lemon with their grog to know that the Vicar had 
thrown out sarcasms against the Squire's charities, as little 
better than those of the man who stole a goose, and gave away 
the giblets in alms. For Shepperton, you observe, was in a state 
of Attic culture compared with Knebley ; it had turnpike roads 
and a public opinion, whereas, in the Boeotian Knebley, men's 
minds and waggons alike moved in the deepest of ruts, and the 
landlord was only grumblfd at as a necessary and unalterable evil, 
like the weather, the weevils, and the turnip-fly. 

Thus in Shepperton this breach with Mr. Oldinport tended only 
to heighten that good understanding which the Vicar had always 
enjoyed with the rest of his parishioners, from the generation 
whose children he had christened a quarter of a centuiy before, 
down to that hopeful generation represented by little Tommy 
Bond, who had recently quitted frocks and trousers for the*^ 
severe simplicity of a tight suit of corduroys, relieved by numerous 
brass buttons. Tommy was a saucy boy, impervious to all 
impressions of reverence, and excessively addicted to humming-tops 
and marbles, with which recreative resources he was in the habit 
of immoderately distending the pockets of his corduroys. One 
day, spinning his top on the garden-walk, and seeing the Vicar 
advance directly towards it, at that exciting moment when it was 
beginning to * sleep' magnificently, he shouted out with all the 
force of his lungs — * Stop ! don't knock my top down, now ! ' 
From that day * little Corduroys ' had been an especial favourite 
with Mr. Gilfil, who delighted to provoke his ready scorn and 
wonder by putting questions which gave Tommy the meanest 
opinion of his intellect. 

* Well, little Corduroys, have they milked the geese to-day ? ' 

* Milked the geese ! why, they don't milk the geese, ycu silly ! ' 

* No ! dear heart ! why, how do the goslings live, then ? ' 

The nutriment of goslings rather transcending Tommy's 
observations in natural history, he feigned to understand this 
question in an exclamatory rather than an interrogatory sense, 
and became absorbed in winding up his top. 

* Ah, I see you don't know how the goslings live ! But did 
you notice how it rained sugar-plums yesterday ? ' (Here Tommy 
became attentive.) *Why, they fell into my pocket as I rode 
along. You look in my pocket and see if they didn't.' 

I 



114 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Tommy, without waiting to discuss the alleged antecedent, lost 
no time in ascertaining the presence of the agreeable consequent, 
for he had a well-founded belief in the advantages of diving into 
the Vicar's pocket. Mr. Gilfil called it his wonderful pocket, 
because, as he delighted to tell the 'young shavers' and * two- 
shoes' — so he called all little boys and girls — whenever he put 
pennies into it, they turned into sugar-plums or gingerbread, or 
some other nice thing. Indeed, little Bessie Parrot, a flaxen- 
headed * two-shoes,' very white and fat as to her neck, always 
had the admirable directness and sincerity to salute him with the 
question — * What zoo dot in zoo pottet ? ' 

You can imagine, then, that the christening dinners were none 
the less merry for the presence of t]|e parson. The farmers 
relished his society particularly, for he could not only smoke 
his pipe, and season the details off parish affairs with abundance 
of caustic jokes and proverbs, but, as Mr. Bond often said, no 
man knew more than the Vicar about the breed of cows and 
horses. He had grazing-land of his own about five miles off, 
which a bailiff, ostensibly a tenant, farmed under his direction ; 
and to ride backwards and forwards, and look after the buying 
and selling of stock, was the old gentleman's chief relaxation, 
now his hunting-days were over. To hear him discussing the 
respective merits of the Devonshire breed and the short-horns, 
or the last foolish decision of the magistrates about a pauper, 
a superficial observer might have seen little difference, beyond 
his superior shrewdness, between the Vicar and his bucolic 
parishioners ; for it was his habit to approximate his accent and 
mofle of speech to theirs, doubtless because he thought it a mere 
frustration of the purposes of language to talk of 'shear-hogs' 
and * ewes ' to men who habitually said * sharrags ' and ' yowes.' 
Nevertheless, the farmers themselves were perfectly aware of 
the distinction between them and the parson, and had not at 
all the less belief in him as a gentleman and a clergyman for 
his easy speech and familiar manners. Mrs. Parrot smoothed 
her apron and set her cap right with the utmost solicitude 
when she saw the Vicar coming, made him her deepest curtsy, 
and every Christmas had a fat turkey ready to send him 
with her 'duty.' And in the most gossiping colloquies with 
Mr. Gilfil, you might have observed that both men and 
women ' minded their words,' and never became indifferent to his 
approbation. 

The same respect attended him in his strictly clerical functions. 
The benefits of baptism were supposed to be somehow bound 
up with Mr. Gilfil's personality, so metaphysical a distinction 




' fV/ia( zoo dot in zoo pottet ? ' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 117 

as that between a man and his office being, as yet, quite foreign 
to the mind of a good Shepperton Churchman, savouring, he 
would have thought, of Dissent on the very face of it. Miss 
Selina Parrot put off her marriage a whole month when Mr. Gilfil 
had an attack of rheumatism, rather than be married in a 
makeshift manner by the Milby curate. 

'We've had a very good sermon this morning,' was the 
frequent remark, after hearing one of the old yellow series, heard 
with all the more satisfaction because it had been heard for the 
twentieth time ; for to minds on the Shepperton level it is 
repetition, not novelty, that produces the strongest effect ; and 
phrases, like tunes, are a long time making themselves at home 
in the brain. 

Mr. GilfiFs sermons, as you may imagine, were not of a highly 
doctrinal, stilT less of a polemical, cast. They perhaps did not 
search the conscience very powerfully ; for you remember that 
to Mrs. Patten, who had listened to them thirty years, the 
announcement that she was a sinner appeared an uncivil heresy ; 
but, on the other hand, they made no unreasonable demand on the 
Shepperton intellect — amounting, indeed, to little more than an 
expansion of the concise thesis, that those who do wrong will find 
it the worse for them, and those who do well will find it the 
better for them ; the nature of wrong-doing being exposed in 
special sermons against lying, backbiting, anger, slothfulness, 
and the like; and well-doing being interpreted as honesty, 
truthfulness, charity, industry, and other common virtues, lying 
quite on the surface of life, and having very little to do with deep 
spiritual doctrine. Mrs. Patten understood that if she turned 
out ill -crushed cheeses, a just retribution awaited her; though, 
I fear, she made no particular application of the sermon on 
backbiting. Mrs. Hackit expressed herself greatly edified by 
the sermon on honesty, the allusion to the unjust weight and 
deceitful balance having a peculiar lucidity for her, owing to a 
recent dispute with her grocer ; but I am not aware that she ever 
appeared to be much struck by the sermon on anger. 

As to any suspicion that Mr. Gilfil did not dispense the pure 
Gospel, or any strictures on his doctrine and mode of delivery, 
such thoughts never visited the minds of the Shepperton 
parishioners — of those very parishioners who, ten or fifteen years 
later, showed themselves extremely critical of Mr. Barton's 
discourses and demeanour. But in the interim they had tasted 
that dangerous fruit of the tree of knowledge — innovation, which 
is well known to open the eyes, even in an uncomfortable 
manner. At present, to find fault with the sermon was regarded 



118 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

as almost equivalent to findiug fault with religion itself.. One 
Sunday, Mr. Hackit's nephew, Master Tom Stokes, a flippant 
town youth, greatly scandalised his excellent, relatives by declaring 
that he could write as good a sermon as Mr. Gilfil's ; whereupon 
Mr. Hackit sought to reduce the presumptuous youth to utter 
' confusion, by oftering him a sovereign if he would fulfil his vaunt. 
The sermon was written, however; and though it was not 
admitted to be anywhere within reach of Mr. Gilfil's, it was yet 
so astonishingly like a sermon, having a text, three divisions, 
and a concluding exhortation beginning * And now, my brethren,' 
that the sovereign, though denied formally, was bestowed 
informally, and the sermon was pronounced, when Master Stokes's 
back was turned, to be * an uncommon cliver thing.' 

The Rev. Mr. Pickard, indeed, of the Independent Meeting, 
had stated, in a sermon preached at Rotherby, for the reduction 
of a debt on New Zion, built, with an exuberance of faith and a 
deficiency of funds, by seceders from the original Zion, that he 
lived in a parish where the Vicar was very * dark ' ; and, in the 
prayers he addressed to his own congregation, he was in the habit 
of comprehensively alluding to the parishioners outside the chapel 
walls as those who, Gallio-like, 'cared for none of these things.' 
But I need hardly say that no church-goer ever came within 
earshot of Mr. Pickard. 

It was not to the Shepperton farmers only that Mr. Gilfil's 
society was acceptable ; he was a welcome guest at some of the 
best houses in that part of the country. Old Sir Jasper Sitwell 
would have been glad to see him every week ; and if you had 
seen him conducting Lady Sitwell in to dinner, or had heard him 
talking to her with quaint yet graceful gallantry, you would have 
iriferred that the earlier period of his life had been passed in more 
stately society than could be found in Shepperton, and that his 
slipshod chat and homely manners were but like weather-stains on 
a fine old block of marble, allowing you still to see here and there 
the fineness of the grain, and the delicacy of the original tint. But 
in his later years these visits became a little too troublesome to 
the old gentleman, and he was rarely to be found anywhere of an 
evening beyond the bounds of his own parish — most frequently, 
indeed, by the side of his own sitting-room fire, smoking his pipe, 
and maintaining the pleasing antithesis of dryness and moisture by 
an occasional sip of gin-and-water. 

Here I am aware that I have run the risk of alienating all my 
refined lady-readers, and utterly annihilating any curiosity they 
may have felt to know the details of Mr. Gilfil's love-story. 
* Gin-and-water ! foh ! you may as well ask us to interest 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 119 

ourselves in the romance of a tallow-chandler, who mingles the 
image of his beloved with short dips and moulds.' 

But in the first place, dear ladies, allow me to plead that gin- 
and-water, like obesity, or baldness, or the gout, does not exclude 
a vast amount of antecedent romance, any more than the neatly 
executed 'fronts,' which you may some day wear, will exclude 
your present possession of less expensive braids. Alas, alas ! we 
poor mortals are often little better than wood-ashes — there is 
small sign of the sap, and the leafy freshness, and the bursting 
buds that were once there ; but wherever we see wood-ashes, we 
know that all that early fulness of life must have been. I, at 
least, hardly ever look at a bent old man, or a wizened old 
woman, but I see also, with my mind's eye, that Past of which 
they are the shrunken remnant, and the unfinished romance of 
rosy cheeks and bright eyes seems sometimes of feeble interest 
and significance, compared with that drama of hope and love 
which has long ago reached its catastrophe, and left the poor soul, 
like a dim and dusty stage, with all its sweet garden-scenes and 
fair perspectives overturned and thrust out of sight. 

In the second place, let me assure you that Mr. GilfiFs 
potations of gin-and- water were quite moderate. His nose was 
not rubicund ; on the contrary, his white hair hung around a pale 
and venerable face. He drank it chiefly, I believe, because it 
was cheap ; and here I find myself alighting on another of the 
Vicar's weaknesses, which, if I had cared to paint a flattering 
portrait rather than a faithful one, I might have chosen to 
suppress. It is undeniable that, as the years advanced, Mr. 
Gilfil became, as Mr. Hackit observed, more and more *close-\ 
fisted,' though the growing propensity showed itself rather in the 
parsimony of his personal habits, than in withholding help from 
the needy. He was saving — so he represented the matter to 
himself — for a nephew, the only son of a sister who had been the 
dearest object, all but one, in his life. * The lad,' he thought, 
* will have a nice little fortune to begin life with, and will bring 
his pretty young wife some day to see the spot where his old 
uncle lies. It will perhaps be all the better for his hearth that 
mine was lonely.' 

Mr. Gilfil was a bachelor, then ? 

That is the conclusion to which you would probably have 
come if you had entered his sitting-room, where the bare tables, 
the large old-fashioned horse -hair chairs, and the threadbare 
Turkey carpet perpetually fumigated with tobacco, seemed to tell 
a story of wifeless existence that was contradicted by no portrait, 
uo piece of embroidery, no faded bit of pretty triviality, hinting 



120 SCENES OF CLERICAL UFE 

of taper-fingers and small feminine ambitions. And it was here 
that Mr. (rilfil passed his evenings, seldom with other society than 
that of Ponto, his old brown setter, who, stretched out at full 
length on the rug with his nose between his fore-paws, would 
wrinkle his brows and lift up his eyelids every now and then, to 
exchange a glance of mutual understanding with his master. But 
there was a chamber in Shepperton Vicarage which told a 
different story from that bare and cheerless dining-room — a 
chamber never entered by any one besides Mr. Gilfil and old 
Martha the housekeeper, who, with David her husband as groom 
and gardener, formed the Vicar's entire establishment. The blinds 
of this chamber were always down, except once a quarter, when 
Martha entered that she might air and clean it. She always 
asked Mr. Gilfil for the key, which he kept locked up in his 
bureau, and returned it to him when she had finished her task. 

It was a touching sight that the daylight streamed in upon, as 
Martha drew aside the blinds and thick curtains, and opened the 
Gothic casement of the oriel window! On the little dressing- 
table there was a dainty looking-glass in a carved and gilt frame ; 
bits of wax-candle were still in the branched sockets at the sides, 
and on one of these branches hung a little black lace kerchief ; a 
faded satin pincushion, with the pins rusted in it, a scent-bottle, 
and a large green fan, lay on the table ; and on a dressing-box by 
the side of the glass was a work-basket, and an unfinished baby- 
cap, yellow with age, lying in it. Two gowns, of a fashion long 
forgotten, were hanging on nails against the door, and a pair of 
tiny red slippers, with a bit of tarnished silver embroidery on 
them, were standing at the foot of the bed. Two or three water- 
colour drawings, views of Naples, hung upon the walls ; and over 
the mantelpiece, above some bits of rare old china, two miniatures 
in oval frames. One of these miniatures represented a young 
man about seveu-and-twenty, with a sanguine complexion, full 
lips, and clear candid grey eyes. The other was the likeness of a 
girl probably not more than eighteen, with small features, thin 
ohwka, a ptile southern-looking complexion, and large dark eyes. 
The gtnitleman wore powder ; the lady had her dark hair gathered 
away from her face, and a little cap, with a cherry-coloured bow, 
set on tlie top of her head — a coquettish head-dress, but the eyes 
spoke of sadness rather than of coquetry. 

Suoh were the things that Martha had dusted and let the air 
\\\^n\y fo\ir times a year, ever since she was a blooming lass of 
twenty ; and slio was now, in this last decade of Mr. Gilfil's life, 
unqu^v^tiourtbly on the wroncj side of fifty. Such was the locked- 
up chamber ia Mr. Gilfil's house : a sort of visible symbol of the 




lie brought her here. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 123 

secret chamber in his heart, where he had long turned the key on 
early hopes and early sorrows, shutting up for ever all the passion 
and the poetry of his life. 

There were not many people in the parish, besides Martha, 
who had any very distinct remembrance of Mr. Gilfil's wife, or 
indeed who knew anything of her, beyond the fact that there was 
a marble tablet, with a Latin inscription in memory of her, over 
the Vicarage pew. The parishioners who were old enough to 
remember her arrival were not generally gifted with descriptive 
powers, and the utmost you could gather from them was, that Mrs. 
Grilfil looked like a * furriner, wi' such eyes, you can't think, an' a 
voice as went through you when she sung at church.' The one 
exception was Mrs. Patten, whose strong memory and taste for 
personal narrative made her a great source of oral tradition in 
Shepperton. Mr. Hackit, who had not come into the parish 
until ten years after Mrs. Gilfil's death, would often put old 
questions to Mrs. Patten for the sake of getting the old answers, 
which pleased him in the same way as passages from a favourite book, 
or the scenes of a familiar play, please more accomplished people. 

* Ah, you remember well the Sunday as Mrs. Gilfil first come 
to church, eh, Mrs. Patten 1 ' 

' To be sure I do. It was a fine bright Sunday as ever was 
seen, just at the beginnin' o' hay harvest. Mr. Tarbett preached 
that day, and Mr. Gilfil sat i' the pew with his wife. I think I 
see him now, a-leading her up the aisle, an' her head not reachin' 
much above his elber : a little pale woman, with eyes as black as 
sloes, an' yet lookin' blank-like, as if she see'd nothing with 'em.' 

* I warrant she had her weddin' clothes on ? ' said Mr. Hackit. 

* Nothin' partickler smart — on'y a white hat tied down under 
her chin, an' a white Indy muslin gown. But you don't know 
what Mr. Gilfil was in those times. He was fine an' altered 
before you come into the parish. He'd a fresh colour then, an' a 
bright look wi' his eyes, as did your heart good to see. He 
looked rare and happy that Sunday ; but somehow, I'd a feelin' 
as it wouldn't last long. I've no opinion o' furriners, Mr. Hackit, 
for I've travelled i' their coimtry with my lady in my time, an' 
seen enough o' their victuals an' their nasty ways.' 

* Mrs. Gilfil come from It'ly, didn't she ! ' 

* I reckon she did, but I niver could rightly hear about that. 
Mr. Gilfil was niver to be spoke to about .her, and nobody else 
hereabout knowed anythin'. Howiver, she must ha' come over 
pretty young, for she spoke English as well as you an' me. It's 
them Italians as has such fine voices, an' Mrs. Gilfil sung, you 
never beared the like. He brought her here to have tea with me 



124 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

one afternoon, and says he, in his jovial way, " Now, Mrs. Patten, 
I want Mrs. Gilfil to see the neatest house, and drink the best 
cup o' tea, in all Shepperton ; you must show her your dairy and 
your cheese-room, and then she shall sing you a song." An' so 
she did ; an' her voice seemed sometimes to fill the room ; an' 
then it went low an' soft as if it was whisperin' close to your 
heart like.' 

* You never heared her again, I reckon ? ' 

* No : she was sickly then, and she died in a few months after. 
She wasn't in the parish much more nor half a year altogether. 
She didn't seem lively that afternoon, an' I could see she didn't 
care about the daily, nor the cheeses, only she pretended, to 
please him. As for him, I niver see'd a man so wrapt up in a 
woman. He looked at her as if he was worshippin' her, an' as if 
he wanted to lift her oft' the ground ivery minute, to save her the 
trouble o' walkin'. Poor man, poor man ! It had like to ha' 
killed him when she died, though he niver gev way, but went on 
ridin' about and preachin'. But he was wore to a shadow, an' 
his eyes used to look as dead — ^you wouldn't ha' knowed 'em.' 

' She brought him no fortin ? ' 

*Not she. All Mr. Gilfil's property come by his mother's 
side. There was blood an' money too, there. It's a thousand 
pities as he married i' that way — a fine man like him, as might 
ha' had the pick o' the county, an' had his grandchildren about 
him now. An' him so fond o' children, too.' 

In this manner Mrs. Patten usually wound up her reminis- 
cences of the Vicar's wife, of whom, you perceive, she knew but 
little. It was clear that the communicative old lady had nothing 
to tell of Mrs. Gilfil's history previous to her arrival in Shepperton, 
and that she was unacquainted with Mr. Gilfil's love-story. 

But I, dear reader, am quite as communicative as Mrs. Patten, 
and much better informed ; so that, if you care to know more 
about the Vicar's courtship and marriage, you need only carry 
your imagination back to the latter end of the last century, and 
your attention forward into the next chapter. 






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She trips along before the elder. 






CHAPTER II 

It is the evening of the 21st of June 1788. The day has been 
bright and sultry, and the sun will still be more than an hour 
above the horizon, but his rays, broken by the leafy fretwork of 
the elms that border the park, no longer prevent two ladies from 
carrying out their cushions and embroidery, and seating themselves 
to work on the lawn in front of Cheverel Manor. The soft turf 
gives way even under the fairy tread of the younger lady, whose 
small stature and slim figure rest on the tiniest of full-grown 
feet. She trips along before the elder, carrying the cushions, 
which she places in the favourite spot, just on the slope by a 
clump of laurels, where they can see the sunbeams sparkling 
among the water-lilies, and can be themselves seen from the 
dining-room windows. She has deposited the cushions, and now 
turns round, so that you may have a full view of her as she stands 
waiting the slower advance of the elder lady. You are at once 
arrested by her large dark eyes, which, in their inexpressive 
unconscious beauty, resemble the eyes of a fawn, and it is only by 
an effort of attention that you notice the absence of bloom on her 
young cheek, and the southern yellowish tint of her small neck 
and face, rising above the little black lace kerchief which prevents 
the too immediate comparison of her skin with her white muslin 
gown. Her large eyes seem all the more striking because the 
dark hair is gathered away from her face, under a little cap set 
at the top of her head, with a cherry-coloured bow on one side. 

The elder lady, who is advancing towards the cushions, is cast 
in a very different mould of womanhood. She is tall, and looks 
the taller because her powdered hair is turned backward over a 
toupee, and surmounted by lace and ribbons. She is nearly fifty, 
but her complexion is still fresh and beautiful, with the beauty 
of an auburn blond ; her proud pouting lips, and her head thrown 
a little backward as she walks, give an expression of hauteur 
which is not contradicted by the cold grey eye. The tucked-in 
kerchief, rising full over the low tight bodice of her blue dress, 

127 



128 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

sets off the majestic form of her bust, and she treads the lawn as 
if she were one of Sir Joshua Reynolds's stately ladies, who had 
suddenly stepped from her frame to enjoy the evening cool. 

' Put the cushions lower, Caterina, that we may not have so 
much sun upon us,' she called out, in a tone of authority, when 
still at some distance. 

Caterina obeyed, and they sat down, making two bright 
patches of red and white and blue on the green background of 
the laurels and the lawn, which would look none the less pretty 
in a picture because one of the women's hearts was rather cold 
and the other rather sad. 

And a charming picture Cheverel Manor would have made 
that evening, if some English Watteau had been there to paint it : 
the castellated house of grey-tinted stone, with the flickering 
sunbeams sending dashes of golden light across the many-shaped 
panes in the mullioned windows, and a great beach leaning 
athwart one of the flanking towers, and breaking, with its dark 
flattened boughs, the too formal symmetry i'of the front ; the 
broad gravel-walk winding on the right, by a row of tall pines, 
alongside the pool — on the left branching out among swelling 
grassy mounds, surmounted by clumps of trees, where the red 
trunk of the Scotch fir glows in the descending sunlight against 
the bright green of limes and acacias ; the great pool, where a 
pair of swans are swimming lazily with one leg tucked under a 
wing, and where the open water-lilies lie calmly accepting the 
kisses of the fluttering light-sparkles ; the lawn, with its smooth 
emerald greenness, sloping down to the rougher and browner 
herbage of the park, from which it is invisibly fenced by a little 
stream that winds away from the pool, and disappears under a 
wooden bridge in the distant pleasure-ground ; and on this lawn 
our two ladies, whose part in the landscape the painter, st^inding 
at a favourable point of view in the park, would represent with a 
few little dabs of red and white and blue. 

Seen from the great Gothic windows of the dining-room, they 
had much more definiteness of outline, and were distinctly visible 
to the three gentlemen sipping their claret there, as two fair 
women in whom all three had a personal interest. These 
gentlemen were a group worth considering attentively ; but any 
one entering that dining-room for the first time would perhaps 
have had his attention even more strongly arrested by the room 
itself, which was so bare of furniture that it impressed one with 
its architectural beauty like a cathedral. A piece of matting 
stretched from door to door, a bit of worn carpet under the 
dining-table, and a sideboard in a deep recess, did not detain the 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 129 

eye for a moment from the lofty groined ceiling, with its richly 
carved pendants, all of creamy white, relieved here and there by 
touches of gold. On one side, this lofty ceiling was supported by 
pillars and arches, beyond which a lower ceiling, a miniature copy 
of the higher one, covered the square projection which, with its 
three large pointed windows, formed the central feature of the 
building. The room looked less like a place to dine in than a 
piece of space enclosed simply for the sake of beautiful outline ; 
and the small dining-table, with the party round it, seemed an , 
odd and insignificant accident, rather than anything connected 
with the original purpose of the apartment. 

But, examined closely, that group was far from insignificant ; 
for the eldest, who was reading in the newspaper the last 
portentous proceedings of the French parliaments, and turning 
with occasional comments to his young companions, was as fine a 
specimen of the old English gentleman as could well have been 
found in those venei. ble days of cocked-hats and pigtails. His 
dark eyes sparkled under projecting brows, made more prominent 
by bushy grizzled eyebrows; but any apprehension of severity 
excited by these penetrating eyes, and by a somewhat aquiline 
nose, was allayed by the good-natured lines about the mouth, 
which retained all its teeth and its vigour of expression in spite 
of sixty winters. The forehead sloped a little from the projecting 
brows, and its peaked outline was made conspicuous by the 
arrangement of the profusely powdered hair, drawn backward and 
gathered into a pigtail. He sat in a small hard chair, which did 
not admit the slightest approach to a lounge, and which showed 
to advantage the flatness of his back and the breadth of his chest. 
In fact Sir Christopher Cheverel was a splendid old gentleman, as 
any one may see who enters the saloon at Cheverel Manor, where 
his full-length portrait, taken when he was fifty, hangs side by 
side with that of his wife, the stately lady seated on the lawn. 

Looking at Sir Christopher, you would at once have been 
inclined to hope that he had a full-grown son and heir ; but 
perhaps you would have wished that it might not prove to be the 
young man on his right hand, in whom a certain resemblance to 
the Baronet, in the contour of the nose and brow, seemed to 
indicate a family relationship. If this young man had been less 
elegant in his person, he would have been remarked for the 
•elegance of his dress. But the perfections of his slim well- 
proportioned figure were so striking that no one but a tailor could 
notice the perfections of his velvet coat ; and his small white 
hands, with their blue veins and taper fingers, quite eclipsed the 
beauty of his lace ruffles. The face, however — it was difficult to 

K 



130 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

say why — was certainly not pleasing. Nothing could be more 
delicate than the blond complexion — its bloom set off by the 
powdered hair — than the veined overhanging eyelids, which gave 
an indolent expression to the hazel eyes ; nothing more finely cut 
than the transparent nostril and the short upper-lip. Perhaps the 
chin and lower jaw were too small for an irreproachable profile, 
but the defect was on the side of that delicacy and finesse which 
was the distinctive characteristic of the whole person, and which 
was carried out in the clear brown arch of the eyebrows, and the 
marble smoothness of the sloping forehead. Impossible to say 
that this face was not eminently handsome ; yet, for the majority, 
both of men and women, it was destitute of charm. Women 
disliked eyes that seemed to be indolently accepting admiration 
instead of rendering it ; and men, especially if they had a tendency 
to clumsiness in the nose and ankles, were inclined to think this 
Antinous in a pigtail a * confounded puppy.' I fancy that was 
frequently the inward interjection of the Rev. Maynard Gilfil, 
who was seated on the opposite side of the dining-table, though 
Mr. GilfiFs legs and profile were not at all of a kind to make him 
peculiarly alive to the impertinence and frivolity of personal 
advantages. His healthy open face and robust limbs were after 
an excellent pattern for everyday wear, and, in the opinion of Mr. 
Bates, the north-country gardener, would have become regimentals 

* a fi^in saight ' better than the * peaky ' features and slight form 
of Captain Wybrow, notwithstanding that this young gentleman, 
as Sir Christopher's nephew and destined heir, had the strongest 
hereditary claim on the gardener's respect, and was undeniably 

* clean-limbed.' But alas! human longings are perversely 
obstinate ; and to the man whose mouth is watering for a peach, 
it is of no use to offer the largest vegetable marrow. Mr. Gilfil 
was not sensitive to Mr. Bates's opinion, whereas he wm sensitive 
to the opinion of another person, who by no means shared Mr. 
Bates's preference. 

Who the other person was it would not have required a very 
keen observer to guess, from a certain eagerness in Mr. Gilfil's 
glance as that little figure in white tripped along the lawn with 
the cushions. Captain AVybrow, too, was looking in the same 
direction, but his handsome face remained handsome — and nothing 
more. 

*Ah,' said Sir Christopher, looking up from his paper, 

* there's my lady. Ring for coffee, Anthony ; we'll go and join 
her, and the little monkey Tina shall give us a song.' 

The coffee presently appeared, brought, not as usual by the 
footman, in scarlet and drab, but by the old butler, in threadbare 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 131 

but well-brashed black, who, as he was placing it on the table, 
said — 

* If you please. Sir Christopher, there's the widow Hartopp 
a-crying i' the still-room, and begs leave to see your honour.' 

* I have given Markham full orders about the widow Hartopp,' 
said Sir Christopher, in a sharp, decided tone. * I have nothing to 
say to her.' 

*Your honour,' pleaded the butler, nibbing his hands, and 
putting on an additional coating of humility, ' the poor woman's 
dreadful overcome, and says she can't sleep a wink this blessed 
night without seeing your honour, and she begs you to pardon the 
great freedom she's took to come at this time. She cries fit to 
break her heart.' 

*Ay, ay; water pays no tax. Well, show her into the 
library.' 

Coffee despatched, the two young men walked out through the 
open window, and joined the ladies on the lawn, while Sir 
Christopher made his way to the library, solemnly followed by 
Rupert, his pet bloodhound, who, in his habitual place at the 
Baronet's right hand, behaved with great urbanity during dinner ; 
but when the cloth was drawn, invariably disappeared under the 
table, apparently regarding the claret -jug as a mere human 
weakness, which he winked at, but refused to sanction. 

The library lay but three steps from the dining-room, on the 
other side of a cloistered and matted passage. The oriel window 
was overshadowed by the great beech, and this, with the flat 
heavily carved ceiling and the dark hue of the old books that lined 
the walls, made the room look sombre, especially on entering it 
from the dining-room, with its aerial curves and cream-coloured 
fretwork touched with gold. As Sir Christopher opened the door, 
a jet of brighter light fell on a woman in a widow's dress, who 
stood in the middle of the room, and made the deepest of curtsies 
as he entered. She was a buxom woman approaching forty, her 
eyes red with the tears which had evidently been absorbed by the 
handkerchief gathered into a damp ball in her right hand. 

*Now, Mrs. Hartopp,' said Sir Christopher, taking out his 
gold snuff-box and tapping the lid, * what have you to say to me 1 
Markham has delivered you a notice to quit, I suppose ? ' 

* yis, your honour, an' that's the reason why I've come. I 
hope your honour '11 think better on it, an' not turn me an' my 
poor children out o' the farm, where my husband al'ys paid his 
rent as reglar as the day come.' 

* Nonsense ! I should like to know what good it will do you 
and your children to stay on a farm and lose every farthing your 



132 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

husband has left you, instead of selling your stock and going into 
some little place where you can keep your money together. It is 
very well known to every tenant of mine that I never allow widows 
to stay on their husband's farms.' 

*0, Sir Christifer, if you tvould consider — when IVe sold 
the hay an' com, an' all the live things, an' paid the debts, an' 
put the money out to use, I shall have hardly enough to keep our 
souls an' bodies together. An' how can I rear my boys and put 
'em 'prentice ? They must go for day-labourers, an' their father 
a man wi' as good belongings as any on your honour's estate, an' 
niver threshed his wheat afore it was well i' the rick, nor sold the 
straw off his farm, nor nothin'. Ask all the farmers round if there 
was a stiddier, soberer man than my husband as attended Ripstone 
market. An' he says, " Bessie," says he — them was his last words 
— " you'll mek a shift to manage the farm, if Sir Christifer 'uU 
let you stay on." ' 

* Pooh, pooh ! ' said Sir Christopher, Mrs. Hartopp's sobs 
having interrupted her pleadings, *now listen to me, and try to 
understand a little common sense. You are about as able to 
manage the farm as your best milch cow. You'll be obliged to 
have some managing man, who will either cheat you out of your 
money, or wheedle you into marrying him.' 

* 0, your honour, I was never that sort o' woman, an' nobody 
has known it on me.' 

* Very likely not, because you were never a widow before. A 
woman's always silly enough, but she's never quite as great a fool 
as she can be until she puts on a widow's cap. Now, just ask 
yourself how much the better you will be for staying on your 
farm at the end of four years, when you've got through your 
money, and let your farm run down, and are in arrears for half 
your rent ; or, perhaps, have got some great bulky fellow for a 
husband, who swears at you and kicks your children.' 

* Indeed, Sir Christifer, I know a deal o' farmin', an' was 
brought up i' the thick on it, as you may say. An' there was my 
husband's great-aunt managed a farm for twenty year, an' left 
legacies to all her nephys an' nieces, an' even to my husband, as 
was then a babe unborn.' 

* Psha ! a woman six feet high, with a squint and sharp 
elbows, I daresay — a man in petticoats. Not a rosy-cheeked 
widow like you, Mrs. Hartopp.' 

* Indeed, your honour, I never heard of her squintin', an' they 
said as she might ha' been married o'er and o'er again, to people 
as had no call to hanker after her money.' 

* Ay, ay, that's what you all think. Every man that looks at 



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MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STOEY 133 

you wants to marry you, and would like you the better the more 
children you have and the less money. But it is useless to talk 
and cry. I have good reasons for my plans, and never alter them. 
What you have to do is to make the best of your stock, and to 
look out for some little place to go to, when you leave The 
Hollows. Now, go back to Mrs. Bellamy's room, and ask her to 
give you a dish of tea.' 

Mrs. Hartopp, understanding from Sir Christopher's tone that 
he was not to be shaken, curtsied low and left the library, while 
the Baronet, seating himself at his desk in the oriel window, wrote 
the following letter : — 

*Mr. Markham, — Take no steps about letting Crowsfoot 
Cottage, as I intend to put in the widow Hartopp when she 
leaves her farm ; and if you will be here at eleven on Saturday 
morning, I will ride round with you, and settle about making 
some repairs, and see about adding a bit of land to the take, as 
she will want to keep a cow and some pigs. — Yours faithfuUy, 

' Christopher Cheverel.' 

After ringing the bell and ordering this letter to be sent, Sir 
Christopher walked out to join the party on the lawn. But 
finding the cushions deserted, he walked on to the eastern front 
of the building, where, by the side of the grand entrance, was the 
large bow- window of the saloon, opening on to the gravel-sweep, 
and looking towards a long vista of undulating turf, bordered by 
tall trees, .which, seeming to unite itself with the green of the 
meadows and a grassy road through a plantation, only terminated 
with the Gothic arch of a gateway in the far distance. The bow- 
window was open, and Sir Christopher, stepping in, found the 
group he sought, examining the progress of the unfinished ceiling. 
It was in the same style of florid pointed Gothic as the dining- 
room, but more elaborate in its tracery, which was like petrified 
lace-work picked out with delicate and varied colouring. About 
a fourth of it still remained uncoloured, and under this part were 
scaffolding, ladders, and tools ; otherwise the spacious saloon was 
empty of furniture, and seemed to be a grand Gothic canopy for 
the group of five human figures standing in the centre. 

* Francesco has been getting on a little better the last day or 
two,' said Sir Christopher, as he joined the party: * he's a sad 
lazy dog, and I fancy he has a knack of sleeping as he stands, 
with his brushes in his hands. But I must spur him on, or we 
may not have the scaffolding cleared away before the bride comes, 
if you show dexterous generalship in your wooing, eh, Anthony ? 
and take your Madgeburg quickly.' 



134 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

*Ah, sir, a siege is known to be one of the most tedious 
operations in war/ said Captain Wybrow, with an easy smile. 

' Not when there's a traitor within the walls in the shape of a 
soft heart. And that there will be, if Beatrice has her mother's 
tenderness as well as her mother's beauty.' 

'What do you think, Sir Christopher,' said Lady Cheverel, 
who seemed to wince a little under her husband's reminiscences, 
* of hanging Guercino's " Sibyl " over that door when we put up 
the pictures '? It is rather lost in my sitting-room.' 

* Very good, my love,' answered Sir Christopher, in a tone of 
punctiliously polite affection ; * if you like to part with the 
ornament from your own room, it will show admirably here. Our 
portraits, by Sir Joshua, will hang opposite the window, and the 
" Transfiguration " at that end. You see, Anthony, I am leaving 
no good places on the walls for you and your wife. We shall 
turn you with your faces to the wall in the gallery, and you may 
take your revenge on us by and by.' 

While this conversation was going on, Mr. Gilfil turned to 
Caterina and said — 

* I like the view from this window better than any other in 
the house.' 

She made no answer, and he saw that her eyes were filling 
with tears ; so he added, * Suppose we walk out a little ; Sir 
Christopher and my lady seem to be occupied.' 

Caterina complied silently, and they turned down one of the 
gravel walks that led, after many windings under tall trees and 
among grassy openings, to a large enclosed flower-garden. Their 
walk was perfectly silent, for Maynard Gilfil knew that Caterina's 
thoughts were not with him, and she had been long used to make 
him endure the weight of those moods which she carefully hid 
from others. 

They reached the flower-garden, and turned mechanically in at 
the gate that opened, through a high thick hedge, on an expanse 
of brilliant colour, which, after the green shades they had passed 
through, startled the eye like flames. The effect was assisted by 
an undulation of the ground, which gradually descended from the 
entrance-gate, and then rose again towards the opposite end, 
crowned by an orangery. The flowers were glowing with their 
evening splendours ; verbenas and heliotropes were sending up 
their finest incense. It seemed a gala where all was happiness and 
brilliancy, and misery could find no sympathy. This was the 
effect it had on Caterina. As she wound among the beds of gold 
and blue and pink, where the flowers seemed to be looking at her 
with wondering elf-like eyes, knowing nothing of sorrow, the 











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MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 135 

feeling of isolation in her wretchedness overcame her, and the 
tears, which had been before trickling slowly down her pale 
cheeks, now gushed forth accompanied with sobs. And yet there 
was a loving human being close beside her, whose heart was 
aching for hers, who was possessed by the feeling that she was 
miserable, and that he was helpless to soothe her. But she 
was too much irritated by the idea that his wishes were 
different from hers, that he rather regretted the folly of her 
hopes than the probability of their disappointment, to take any 
comfort in his sympathy. Caterina, like the rest of us, turned 
away from sympathy which she suspected to be mingled with 
criticism, as the child turns away from the sweetmeat in which it 
suspects imperceptible medicine. 

* Dear Caterina, I think I hear voices,' said Mr. Gilfil ; * they 
may be coming this way.' 

She checked herself like one accustomed to conceal her 
emotions, and ran rapidly to the other end of the garden, where 
she seemed occupied in selecting a rose. Presently Lady 
Cheverel entered, leaning on the arm of Captain Wybrow, and 
followed by Sir Christopher. The party stopped to admire the 
tiers of geraniums near the gate ; and in the meantime Caterina 
tripped back with a moss rosebud in her hand, and, going up to 
Sir Christopher, said — * There, Padroncello — there is a nice rose 
for your button-hole.' 

*Ah, you black-eyed monkey,' he said, fondly stroking her 
cheek ; * so you have been running off with Maynard, either to 
torment or coax him an inch or two deeper into love. Come, 
come, I want you to sing us * Ho perduto ' before we sit down to 
picquet. Anthony goes to-morrow, you know ; you must warble 
him into the right sentimental lover's mood, that he may acquit 
himself well at Bath.' He put her little arm under his, and 
calling to Lady Cheverel, *Come, Henrietta!' led the way towards 
the house. 

The party entered the drawing-room, which, with its oriel 
window, corresponded to the library in the other wing, and had 
also a flat ceiling heavy with carving and blazonry ; but the 
window being unshaded, and the walls hung with full-length 
portraits of knights and dames in scarlet, white, and gold, it had 
not the sombre effect of the library. Here hung the portrait of 
Sir Anthony Cheverel, who in the reign of Charles II. was the 
renovator of the family splendour, which had suffered some 
declension from the early brilliancy of that Chevreuil who came 
over with the Conqueror. A very imposing personage was this 
Sir Anthony, standing with one arm akimbo, and one flne leg and 



136 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

foot advanced, evidently with a view to the gratification of 
his contemporaries and posterity. You might have taken off 
his splendid penike, and his scarlet cloak, which was thrown 
backward from his shoulders, without annihilating the dignity 
of his appearance. And he had known how to choose a wife, 
too, for his lady, hanging opposite to him, with her sunny 
brown hair drawn away in bands from her mild grave face, 
and falling in two large rich curls on her snowy gently-sloping 
neck, which shamed the harsher hue and outline of her white 
satin robe, was a fit mother of * large-acred ' heirs. 

In this room tea was served; and here, every evening, as 
regularly as the great clock in the courtyard with deliberate bass 
tones struck nine. Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel sat down to 
picquet until half-past ten, when Mr. Gilfil read prayers to the 
assembled household in the chapel. 

But now it was not near nine, and Caterina must sit down to 
the harpsichord and sing Sir Christopher's favourite airs, by 
Gluck and Paesiello, whose operas, for the happiness of that 
generation, were then to be heard on the London stage. It 
happened this evening that the sentiment of these airs, * Che faro 
senza Eur y dice V and ^ Ho perduto il hel semhiante,^ in both of 
which the singer pours out his yearning after his lost love, came 
very close to Caterina's own feeling. But her emotion, instead of 
being a hindrance to her singing, gave her additional power. 
Her singing was what she could do best ; it was her one point 
of superiority, in which it was probable she would excel the 
highborn beauty whom Anthony was to woo ; and her love, her 
jealousy, her pride, her rebellion against her destiny, made 
one stream of passion which welled forth in the deep rich 
tones of her voice. She had a rare contralto, which Lady 
Cheverel, who had high musical taste, had been careful to pre- 
serve her from straining. 

* Excellent, Caterina,' said Lady Cheverel, as there was a 
pause after the wonderful linked sweetness of * Che faro,* * I 
never heard you sing that so well. Once more ! ' 

It was repeated; and then came, ^ Ho perduto,* which Sir 
Christopher encored, in spite of the clock, just striking nine. 
When the last note was dying out he said — 

* There's a clever black-eyed monkey. Now bring out the 
table for picquet.' 

Caterina drew out the table and placed the cards ; then with 
her rapid fairy suddenness of motion, threw herself on her knees 
and clasped Sir Christopher's knee. He bent down, stroked her 
cheek, and smiled. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 137 

* Caterina, that is foolish,' said Lady Cheverel. * I wish you 
would leave oflf those stage-players' antics.' 

She jumped up, arranged the music on the harpsichord, and 
then, seeing the Baronet and his lady seated at picquet, quietly 
glided out of the room. 

Captain Wybrow had been leaning near the harpsichord during 
the singing, and the chaplain had thrown himself on a sofa at the 
end of the room. They both now took up a book. Mr. Gilfil 
chose the last number of the Gentlenmn^s Magazine] Captain 
Wybrow, stretched on an ottoman near the door, opened Fauhlas ; 
and there was perfect silence in the room which, ten minutes 
before, was vibrating to the passionate tones of Caterina. 

She had made her way along the cloistered passages, now lighted 
here and there by a small oil-lamp, to the grand- staircase, which 
led directly to a gallery running along the whole eastern side of 
the building, where it was her habit to walk when she wished to 
be alone. The bright moonlight was streaming through the 
windows, throwing into strange light and shadow the heterogeneous 
objects that lined the long walls : Greek statues and busts of 
Roman emperors ; low cabinets filled with curiosities, natural and 
antiquarian ; tropical birds and huge horns of beasts ; Hindoo gods 
and strange shells ; swords and daggers, and bits of chain-armour ; 
Roman lamps and tiny models of Greek temples ; and, above all 
these, queer old family portraits — of little boys and girls, once the 
hope of the Cheverels, with close-shaven heads imprisoned in stiff 
ruffs — of faded, pink-faced ladies, with rudimentary features and 
highly developed head-dresses — of gallant gentlemen, with high 
hips, high shoulders, and red pointed beards. 

Here, on rainy days. Sir Christopher and his lady took their 
promenade, and here billiards were played ; but, in the evening, it 
was forsaken by all except Caterina — and, sometimes, one other 
person. 

She paced up and down in the moonlight, her pale face and 
thin white-robed form making her look like the ghost of some 
former Lady Cheverel come to revisit the glimpses of the moon. 

By and by she paused opposite the broad window above the 
portico, and looked out on the long vista of turf and trees now 
stretching chill and saddened in the moonlight. 

Suddenly a breath of warmth and roses seemed to float towards 
her, and an arm stole gently round her waist, while a soft hand 
took up her tiny fingers. Caterina felt an electric thrill, and was 
motionless for one long moment ; then she pushed away the arm 
and hand, and, turning round, lifted up to the face that hung over 
her, eyes full of tenderness and reproach. The fawn-like uncon- 



138 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

sciousness was gone, and in that one look were the ground tones 
of poor little Caterina's nature — intense love and fierce jealousy. 

* Why do you push me away, Tina 1 ' said Captain Wybrow in 
a half-whisper ; * are you angry with me for what a hard fate puts 
upon me 1 Would you have me cross my uncle — who has done so 
much for us both — in his dearest wish ? You know I have duties 
— we both have duties — before which feeling must be sacrificed.' 

* Yes, yes,' said Caterina, stamping her foot, and turning away 
her head ; * don't tell me what I know already.' 

There was a voice speaking in Caterina's mind to which she 
had never yet given vent. That voice said continually, *Why 
did he make me love him — why did he let me know he loved me, 
if he knew all the while he couldn't brave everything for my sake ? ' 
Then love answered, * He was led on by the feeling of the moment, 
as you have been, Caterina ; and now you ought to help him to do 
what is right.' Then the voice rejoined, * It was a slight matter to 
him. He doesn't much mind giving you up. He will soon love that 
beautiful woman, and forgot a poor little pale thing like you.' 

Thus love, anger, and jealousy were struggling in that young 
soul. 

* Besides, Tina,' continued Captain Wybrow in still gentler 
tones, * I shall not succeed. Miss Assher very likely prefers some 
one else ; and you know I have the best will in the world to fail. 
I shall come back a hapless bachelor — perhaps to find you already 
married to the good-looking chaplain, who is over head and ears in 
love with you. Poor Sir Christopher has made up his mind that 
you're to have Gilfil' 

* Why will you speak so ? You speak from your own want of 
feeling. Go away from me.' 

* Don't let us part in anger, Tina. All this may pass away. 
It's as likely as not that I may never marry any one at all. These 
palpitations may carry me off, and you may have the satisfaction 
of knowing that I shall never be anybody's bridegroom. Who 
knows what may happen 1 I may be my own master before I get 
into the bonds of holy matrimony, and be able to choose my 
little singing -bird. Why should we distress ourselves before 
the time ? ' 

' It is easy to talk so when you are not feeling,' said Caterina, 
the tears flowing fast. *It is bad to bear now, whatever may 
come after. But you don't care about my misery.' 

* Don't I, Tina?' said Anthony in his tenderest tones, again 
stealing his arm round her waist, and drawing her towards him. 
Poor Tina was the slave of this voice and touch. Grief and 
resentment, retrospect and foreboding, vanished — all life before 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 139 

and after melted away in the bliss of that moment, as Anthony 
pressed his lips to hers. 

Captain Wybrow thought, * Poor Little Tina ! it would make 
her very happy to have me. But she is a mad little thing.' 

At that moment a loud bell startled Caterina from her trance 
of bliss. It was the summons to prayers in the chapel, and she 
hastened away, leaving Captain Wybrow to follow slowly. 

It was a pretty sight, that family assembled to worship in the 
little chapel, where a couple of wax-candles threw a mild faint 
light on the figures kneeling there. In the desk was Mr. Gilfil, 
with his face a shade graver than usual. On his right hand, 
kneeling on their red velvet cushions, were the master and mistress 
of the household, in their elderly dignified beauty. On his left, 
the youthful grace of Anthony and Caterina, in all the striking 
contrast of their colouring — he, with his exquisite outline and 
rounded fairness, like an Olympian god ; she, dark and tiny, like 
a gipsy changeling. Then there were the domestics kneeling on 
red-covered forms — the women headed by Mrs. Bellamy, the 
natty little old housekeeper, in snowy cap and apron, and Mrs. 
Sharp, my lady's maid, of somewhat vinegar aspect and flaunting 
attire ; the men by Mr. Bellamy the butler, and Mr. Warren, Sir 
Christopher's venerable valet. 

A few collects from the Evening Service were what Mr. Gilfil 
habitually read, ending with the simple petition, * Lighten our 
darkness.' 

And then they all rose, the servants turning to curtsy and 
bow as they went out. The family returned to the drawing- 
room, said good-night to each other, and dispersed — all to speedy 
slumber except two. Caterina only cried herself to sleep after the 
clock had struck twelve. Mr. Gilfil lay awake still longer, 
thinking that very likely Caterina was crying. 

Captain Wybrow, having dismissed his valet at eleven, was 
soon in a soft slumber, his face looking like a fine cameo in high 
relief on the slightly indented pillow. 



CHAPTER III 

The laat chapter has given the discerning reader sufficient insight 
into the state of things at Cheverel Manor in the summer of 1778. 
In that summer, we know, the great nation of France was agitated 
by conflicting thoughts and passions, which were but the beginning 
of sorrows. And in our Caterina's little breast, too, there were 
terrible struggles. The poor bird was beginning to flutter and 
vainly dash its soft breast against the hard iron bars of the 
inevitable, and we see too plainly the danger, if that anguish 
should go on heightening instead of being allayed, that the 
palpitating heart may be fatally bruised. 

Meanwhile, if, as I hope, you feel some interest in Caterina and 
her friends at Cheverel Manor, you are perhaps asking. How came 
she to be there ? How was it that this tiny dark-eyed child of 
the south, whose face was immediately suggestive of olive-covered 
hills and taper-lit shrines, came to have her home in that stately 
English manor-house, by the side of the blonde matron, Lady 
Cheverel — almost as if a humming-bird were found perched on one 
of the elm- trees in the park, by the side of her ladyship's hand- 
somest pouter-pigeon 1 Speaking good English, too, and joining 
in Protestant prayers 1 Surely she must have been adopted and 
brought over to England at a very early age. She was. 

During Sir Christopher's last visit to Italy with his lady, 
fifteen years before, they resided for some time at Milan, where 
Sir Christopher, who was an enthusiast for Gothic architecture, 
and was then entertaining the project of metamorphosing Bis 
plain brick family mansion into the model of a Gothic manor-house, 
was bent on studying the details of that marble miracle, the 
Cathedral. Here Lady Cheverel, as at other Italian cities where 
she made any protracted stay, engaged a maestro to give her 
lessons in singing, for she had then not only fine musical taste, 
but a fine soprano voice. Those were days when very rich people 
used manuscript music, and many a man who resembled Jean 
Jacques in nothing else, resembled him in getting a livelihood 

140 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 141 

*li copier la musique k tant la page.' Lady Cheverel having 
need of this service, Maestro Albani told her he would send her a 
poveraccio of his acquaintance, whose manuscript was the neatest 
and most correct he knew of Unhappily, the poveraccio was not 
always in his best wits, and was sometimes rather slow in 
consequence ; but it would be a work of Christian charity worthy 
of the beautiful Signora to employ poor Sarti. 

The next morning, Mrs. Sharp, then a blooming abigail of 
three-and-thirty, entered her lady's private room and said, * If you 
please, my lady, there's the frowiest, shabbiest man you ever saw, 
outside, and he's told Mr. Warren as the singing-master sent him 
to see your ladyship. But I think you'll hardly like him to come 
in here. Belike he's only a beggar.' 
* Oh yes, show him in immediately.' 

Mrs. Sharp retired, muttering something about * fleas and 
worse.' She had the smallest possible admiration for fair Ausonia 
and its natives, and even her profound deference for Sir Christopher 
and her lady could not prevent her from expressing her amazement 
at the infatuation of gentlefolks in choosing to sojourn among 
* Papises, in countries where there was no getting to air a bit o' 
linen, and where the people smelt* o' garlic fit to knock you 
down.' 

However, she presently reappeared, ushering in a small meagre 
man, sallow and dingy, with a restless wandering look in his dull 
eyes, and an excessive timidity about his deep reverences, which 
gave him the air of a man who had been long a solitary 
prisoner. Yet through all his squalor and wretchedness there 
were some traces discernible of comparative youth and former 
good looks. Lady Cheverel, though not very tender-hearted, 
still less sentimental, was essentially kind, and liked to dispense 
benefits like a goddess, who looks down benignly on the halt, 
the maimed, and the blind that approach her shrine. She was 
smitten with some compassion at the sight of poor Sarti, who 
struck her as the mere battered wreck of a vessel that might have 
once floated gaily enough on its outward voyage to the sound of 
pipes and tabors. She spoke gently as she pointed out to him 
the operatic selections she wished him to copy, and he seemed 
to sun himself in her auburn, radiant presence, so that when he 
made his exit with the music-books under his arm, his bow, 
though not less reverent, was less timid. 

It was ten years at least since Sarti had seen anything so 
bright and stately and beautiful as Lady Cheverel. For the time 
was far off in which he had trod the stage in satin and feathers, 
the pj'iino tenore of one short season. He had completely lost his 



142 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

voice in the following winter, and had ever since been little better 
than a cracked fiddle, which is good for nothing but firewood. 
For, like many Italian singers, he was too ignorant to teach, and 
if it had not been for his one talent of penmanship, he and his 
young helpless wife might have starved. Then, just after their 
third child was born, fever came, swept away the sickly mother 
and the two eldest children, and attacked Sarti himself, who rose 
from his sick-bed with unfeebled brain and muscle, and a tiny 
baby on his hands, scarcely four months old. He lodged over 
a fruit-shop kept by a stout virago, loud of tongue and irate in 
temper, but who had had children bom to her, and so had taken 
care of the tiny yellow, black-eyed bambinetta, and tended Sarti 
himself through his sickness. Here he continued to live, earning 
a meagre subsistence for himself and his little one by the work 
of copying music, put into his hands chiefly by Maestro Albani. 
He seemed to exist for nothing but the child : he tended it, he 
dandled it, he chatted to it, living with it alone in his one room 
above the fruit-shop, only asking his landlady to take care of the 
marmoset during his short absences in fetching and carrying 
home work. Customers frequenting that fruit-shop might often 
see the tiny Caterina seated on the floor with her legs in a heap 
of pease, which it was her delight to kick about; or perhaps 
deposited, like a kitten, in a large basket out of harm's 
way. 

Sometimes, however, Sarti left his little one with another kind 
of protectress. He was very regular in his devotions, which he 
paid thrice a week in the great cathedral, carrying Caterina with 
him. Here, when the high morning sun was warming the 
myriad glittering pinnacles without, and struggling against the 
massive gloom within, the shadow of a man with a child on his 
arm might be seen flitting across the more stationary shadows of 
pillar and mullion, and making its way towards a little tinsel 
Madonna hanging in a retired spot near the choir. Amid all the 
sublimities of the mighty cathedral, poor Sarti had fixed on this 
tinsel Madonna as the symbol of divine mercy and protection — 
just as a child, in the presence of a great landscape, sees none of 
the glories of wood and sky, but sets its heart on a floating 
feather or insect that happens to be on a level with its eye. 
Here, then, Sarti worshipped and prayed, setting Caterina on the 
floor by his side ; and now and then, when the cathedral lay near 
some place where he had to call, and did not like to take her, he 
would leave her there in front of the tinsel Madonna, where she 
would sit, perfectly good, amusing herself with low crowing 
noises and see-sawings of her tiny body. And when Sarti came 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 143 

back, he always found that the Blessed Mother had taken good 
care of Caterina. 

That was briefly the history of Sarti, who fulfilled so well the 
orders Lady Cheverel gave him, that she sent him away again 
with a stock of new work. But this time, week after week 
passed and he neither reappeared nor sent home the music 
intrusted to him. Lady Cheverel began to be anxious, and 
was thinking of sending Warren to inquire at the address Sarti 
had given her, when one day, as she was equipped for driving out, 
the valet brought in a small piece of paper, which, he said, had 
been left for her ladyship by a man who was carrying fruit. 
The paper contained only three tremulous lines, in Italian : — 

* Will the Eccelentissima, for the love of God, have pity on a 
dying man, and come to him 1 ' 

Lady Cheverel recognised the handwriting as Sarti's in spite of 
its tremulousness, and, going down to her carriage, ordered the 
Milanese coachman to drive to Strada Quinquagesima, Numero 
10. The coach stopped in a dirty narrow street opposite La 
Pazzini's fruit-shop, and that large specimen of womanhood 
immediately presented herself at the door, to the extreme disgust 
of Mrs. Sharp, who remarked privately to Mr. Warren that La 
Pazzini was a * hijeous porpis.' The fruit-woman, however, was 
all smiles and deep curtsies to the Eccelentissima, who, not 
very well understanding her Milanese dialect, abbreviated the 
conversation by asking to be shown at once to Signer Sarti. 
La Pazzini preceded her up the dark narrow stairs, and opened 
a door through which she begged her ladyship to enter. Directly 
opposite the door lay Sarti, on a low miserable bed. His eyes 
were glazed, and no movement indicated that he was conscious of 
their entrance. 

On the foot of the bed was seated a tiny child, apparently not 
three years old, her head covered by a linen cap, her feet clothed 
with leather boots, above which her little yellow legs showed thin 
and naked. A frock, made of what had once been a gay flowered 
silk, was her only other garment. Her large dark eyes shone 
from out her queer little face, like two precious stones in a 
grotesque image carved in old ivory. She held an empty 
medicine-bottle in her hand, and was amusing herself with putting 
the cork in and drawing it out a^rain, to hear how it would pop. 

La Pazzini went up to the bed and said, * Ecco la nobilissima 
donna ! ' but directly after screamed out, * Holy mother ! he is 
dead!' 

It was so. The entreaty had not been sent in time for Sarti 
to carry out his project of asking the great English lady to take 



144 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

care of his Caterina. That was the thought which haunted his 
feeble brain as soon as he began to fear that his illness would end 
in death. She had wealth — she was kind — she would surely 
do something for the poor orphan. And so, at last, he sent that 
scrap of paper which won the fulfilment of his prayer, though he 
did not live to utter it. Lady Cheverel gave La Pazzini money 
that the last decencies might be paid to the dead man, and carried 
away Caterina, meaning to consult Sir Christopher as to what 
should be done with her. Even Mrs. Sharp had been so smitten 
with pity by the scene she had witnessed when she was summoned 
upstairs to fetch Caterina, as to shed a small tear, though she 
was not at all subject to that weakness ; indeed, she abstained 
from it on principle, because, as she often said, it was known to 
be the worst thing in the worid for the eyes. 

On the way back to her hotel. Lady Cheverel turned over 
various projects in her mind regarding Caterina, but at last one 
gained the preference over all the rest. Why should they not take 
the child to England, and bring her up there ? They had been 
married twelve years, yet Cheverel Manor was cheered by no 
children's voices, and the old house would be all the better for a 
little of that music. Besides, it would be a Christian work to 
train this little Papist into a good Protestant, and graft as much 
English fruit as possible on the Italian stem. 

Sir Christopher listened to this plan with hearty acquiescence. 
He loved children, and took at once to the little black-eyed 
monkey — his name for Caterina all through her short life. But 
neither he nor Lady Cheverel had any idea of adopting her as 
their daughter, and giving her their own rank in life. They 
were much too^ English and aristocratic to think of anything so 
romantic. No ! the child would be brought up at Cheverel 
Manor as a protegee to be ultimately useful, perhaps, in sorting 
worsteds, keeping accounts, reading aloud, and otherwise sup- 
plying the place of spectacles when her ladyship's eyes should 
wax dim. 

So Mrs. Sharp had to procure new clothes, to replace the linen 
cap, flowered frock, and leathern boots ; and now, strange to say, 
little Caterina, who had suffered many unconscious evils in her 
existence of thirty moons, first began to know conscious troubles. 
* Ignorance,' says Ajax, * is a painless evil ' ; so, I should think, is 
dirt, considering the merry faces that go along with it. At any 
rate, cleanliness is sometimes a painful good, as any one can vouch 
who has had his face washed the wrong way, by a pitiless hand 
with a gold ring on the third finger. If you, reader, have not 
known that initiatory anguish, it is idle to expect that you will 




1 ' ' • ' • V • 



A spaniel of resigned temper. 



MR. GILI'TT;S p.v.--'' 



f?rni any approximate «Ym<'e]iti •.» nt' wh.- v . : 
Mr>. Sharps new (lisppnstriuu nt" .-..;,[...,■. 
rhis purfjnt(»ry '^aifto pre<ont]y to !.»• :»^.-««. ; . . 
with a pa-^-a*;** sh'aiiihtway !<> a >.ai 'ji' '•': 
' f;tVorf>rs sitTinf^-rooni, wheiv rlu»rr ^^,^. i •> 
..l- was to be ha<l on Sir (MiriNtoi;,ri > i^:; .• 
-'^med ttiii]»er was prepared to uiul« rj«» -» i.- 




temper. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 145 

form any approximate conception of what Caterina endured under 
Mrs. Sharp's new dispensation of soap-and-water. Happily, 
this purgatory came presently to be associated in her tiny brain 
with a passage straightway to a seat of bliss — the sofa in Lady 
Ch ever el's sitting-room, where there were toys to be broken, a 
ride was to be had on Sir Christopher's knee, and a spaniel of 
resigned temper was prepared to undergo small tortures without 
flinching. 



■ CHAPTER IV 

In three months from the time of Caterina's adoption — namely, 
in the late autumn of 1773 — the chimneys of Cheverel Manor 
were sending up unwonted smoke, and the servants were awaiting 
in excitement the return of their master and mistress after two 
years' absence. Great was the astonishment of Mrs. Bellamy, 
the housekeeper, when Mr. Warren lifted a little black -eyed 
child out of the carriage, and great was Mrs. Sharp's sense of 
superior information and experience, as she detailed Caterina's 
history, interspersed with copious comments, to the rest of the 
upper servants that evening, as they were taking a comfortable 
glass of grog together in the housekeeper's room. 

A pleasant room it was, as any party need desire to muster in 
on a cold November evening. The fireplace alone was a picture : 
a wide and deep recess with a low brick altar in the middle, 
where great logs of dry wood sent myriad sparks up the dark 
chimney-throat ; and over the front of this recess a large wooden 
entablature bearing this motto, finely carved in old English 
letters, *Jfeat ffioti antJ fjonaur ti^e Iting.' And beyond the 
party, who formed a half-moon with their chairs and well-furnished 
table round this bright fireplace, what a space of chiaroscuro for 
the imagination to revel in ! Stretching across the far end of the 
room, what an oak table, high enough surely for Homer's gods, 
standing on four massive legs, bossed and bulging like sculptured 
urns ! and, lining the distant wall, what vast cupboards, suggestive 
of inexhaustible apricot jam and promiscuous butler's perquisites ! 
A stray picture or two had found their way down there, and made 
agreeable patches of dark brown on the buff-coloured walls. High 
over the loud-resounding double door hung one which, from some 
indications of a face looming out of blackness, might, by a great 
synthetic effort, be pronounced a Magdalen. Considerably lower 
down hung the similitude of a hat and feathers, with portions of a 
ruff, stated by Mrs. Bellamy to represent Sir Francis Bacon, who 

146 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-^TORY 147 

invented gunpowder, and, in her opinion, * might ha' been better 
emplyed/ 

But this evening the mind is but slightly arrested by th6 great 
Verulam, and is in the humour to think a dead philosopher less 
interesting than a living gardener, who sits conspicuous in the half- 
circle round the fireplace. Mr. Bates is habitually a guest in the 
housekeeper's room of an evening, preferring the social pleasures 
there — the feast of gossip and the flow of grog — to a bachelor's 
chair in his charming thatched cottage on a little island, where 
every sound is remote but the cawing of rooks and the screaming 
of wild geese : poetic sounds, doubtless, but, humanly speaking, 
not convivial. 

Mr. Bates was by no means an average person, to be passed 
without special notice. He was a sturdy Yorkshireman, approach- 
ing forty, whose face Nature seemed to have coloured when she 
was in a hurry, and had no time to attend to ntcances, for every 
inch of him visible above his neckcloth was of one impartial 
redness ; so that when he was at some distance your imagination 
was at liberty to place his lips anywhere between his nose and 
chin. Seen closer, his lips were discerned to be of a peculiar cut, 
and I fancy this had something to do with the peculiarity of his 
dialect, which, as we shall see, was individual rather than 
provincial. Mr. Bates was further distinguished from the common 
herd by a perpetual blinking of the eyes ; and this, together with 
the red-rose tint of his complexion, and a way he had of hanging 
his head forward, and rolling it from side to side as he walked, 
gave him the air of a Bacchus in a blue apron, who, in the present 
reduced circumstances of Olympus, had taken to the management of 
his own vines. Yet, as gluttons are often thin, so sober men are 
often rubicund; and Mr. Bates was sober, with that manly, 
British, churchman-like sobriety which can carry a few glasses of 
grog without any perceptible clarification of ideas. 

* Dang my boottons ! ' observed Mr. Bates, who, at the con- 
clusion of Mrs. Sharp's narrative, felt himself urged to his strongest 
interjection, *it's what I shouldn't ha' looked for from Sir 
Cristhifer an' my ledy, to bring a fiirrin child into the coonthry ; 
an' depend on't, whether you an' me lives to see't or noo, it'll coom 
to soom harm. The first sitiation iver I held — it was a hold 
hancient habbey, wi' the biggest orchard o' apples an' pears you 
ever see — there was a French valet, an' he stool silk stoockins, an' 
shirts, an' rings, an' iverythin' he could ley his hands on, an' run 
awey at last wi' th' missis's jewl-box. They're all alaike, them 
furriners. It roons i' th' blood.' 

*Well,' said Mrs. Sharp, with the air of a person who held 



148 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

liberal views, but knew where to draw the line, * I'm not a-going to 
defend the fumners, for I've as good reason to know what they are as 
most folks, an' nobody '11 ever hear me say but what they're next 
door to heathens, and the hile they eat wi' their victuals is enough 
to turn any Christian's stomach. But for all that — an' for all as the 
trouble in respect o' washin' and managin' has fell upo' me through 
the journey — I can't say but what I think as my Lady an' Sir 
Oristifer's done a right thing by a hinnicent child as doesn't know 
its right hand from its left, i' bringing it where it'll learn to speak 
summat better nor gibberish, and be brought up i' the true religion. 
For as for them furrin churches as Sir Cristifer is so unaccountable 
mad after, wi' pictures o' men an' women a-showing themselves 
just for all the worid as God made 'em, I think, for my part, as 
it's almost a sin to go into 'em.' 

* You're likely to have more foreigners, however,' said Mr. 
Warren, who liked to provoke the gardener, * for Sir Christopher 
has engaged some Italian workmen to help in the alterations in the 
house.' 

* Olterations ! ' exclaimed Mrs. Bellamy, in alarm. * What 
olterations ? ' 

* Why,' answered Mr. Warren, * Sir Christopher, as I understand, 
is going to make a new thing of the old Manor-house, both inside 
and out. And he's got portfolios full of plans and pictures coming. 
It is to be cased with stone, in the Gothic style — pretty near like 
the churches, you know, as far as I can make out ; and the ceilings 
are to be beyond anything that's been seen in the country. Sir 
Christopher's been giving a deal of study to it.' 

* Dear heart alive ! ' said Mrs. Bellamy, * we shall l3e pisoned wi' 
lime an' plaster, an' hev the house full o' workmen colloguing wi' 
the maids, an' makin' no end o' mischief.' 

* That ye may ley your life on, Mrs. Bellamy,' said Mr. Bates. 
* Howiver, I'll noot denay that the Goothic stayle's prithy anoof, 
an' it's woonderful how near them stoon-carvers cuts oot the shapes 
o' the pine-apples, an' shammcks, an' rooses. I daresey Sir 
Cristhifer '11 meek a naice thing o' the Manor, an' there woon't be 
may gentlemen's houses i' the coonthry as '11 coom up to't, wi' 
sich a garden an' pleasure-groons an' wall-fruit as King George 
maight be prood on.' 

* Well, I can't think as the house can be better nor it is, Gothic 
or no Gothic,' said Mrs. Bellamy ; * an' I've done the picklin' and 
preservin' in it fourteen year Michaelmas was a three weeks. But 
what does my lady say to't 1 ' 

* My lady knows better than cross Sir Cristifer in what he's 
set his mind on,' said Mr. Bellamy, who objected to the critical 







6QjTL;v<--#-lAt. ', 



Mr. Bates's song. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 151 

tone of the conversation. * Sir Cristifer '11 hev his own way, that 
you may tek your oath. An' i' the right on't too. He's a 
gentleman bom, an's got the money. But come, Mester Bates, 
fill your glass, an' we'll drink health an' happiness to his honour 
an' my lady, and then you shall give us a song. Sir Cristifer 
doesn't come hum from Italy ivery night.' 

This demonstrable position was accepted without hesitation as 
ground for a toast ; but Mr. Bates, apparently thinking that his 
song was not an equally reasonable sequence, ignored the second 
part of Mr. Bellamy's proposal. So Mrs. Sharp, who had been 
heard to say that she had no thoughts at all of marrying Mr. 
Bates, though he was * a sensable fresh-coloured man as many a 
woman 'ud snap at for a husband,' enforced Mr. Bellamy's appeal. 

* Come, Mr. Bates, let us hear " Roy's Wife." I'd rether hear a 
good old song like that, nor all the fine Italian toodlin.' 

Mr. Bates, urged thus flatteringly, stuck his thumbs into 
the armholes of his waistcoat, threw himself back in his chair 
with his head in that position in which he could look directly 
towards the zenith, and stmck up a remarkably staccato rendering 
of ^ Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch.' This melody may certainly be 
taxed with excessive iteration, but that was precisely its highest 
recommendation to the present audience, who found it all the 
easier to swell the chorus. Nor did it at all diminish their 
pleasure that the only particular concerning * Roy's Wife,' which 
Mr. Bates's enunciation allowed them to gather, was that she 
* chated ' him, — whether in the matter of garden stuff or of some 
other commodity, or why her name should, in consequence, be 
repeatedly reiterated with exultation, remaining an agreeable 
mystery. 

Mr. Bates's song formed the climax of the evening's good- 
fellowship,- and the party soon after dispersed — Mrs. Bellamy 
perhaps to dream of quicklime flying among her preserving-pans, 
or of love-sick housemaids reckless of unswept corners — and Mrs. 
Sharp to sink into pleasant visions of independent housekeeping in 
Mr. Bates's cottage, with no bells to answer, and with fruit and 
vegetables ad libitum. 

Caterina soon conquered all prejudices against her foreign 
blood ; for what prejudices will hold out against helplessness and 
broken prattle ? She became the pet of the household, thrusting 
Sir Christopher's favourite bloodhound of that day, Mrs. Bellamy's 
two canaries, and Mr. Bates's largest Dorking hen, into a merely 
secondary position. The consequence was, that in the space of a 
summer's day she went through a great cycle of experiences, 
commencing with the somewhat acidulated goodwill of Mrs. 



152 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Sharp^s nursery discipline. Then came the grave luxury of her 
ladyship's sitting-room, and, perhaps, the dignity of a ride on Sir 
Christopher's knee, sometimes followed by a visit with him to the 
stables, where Caterina soon learned to hear without crying the 
baying of the chained bloodhounds, and to say, with ostentatious 
bravery, clinging to Sir Christopher's leg all the while, * Dey not 
hurt Tina/ Then Mrs. Bellamy would perhaps be going out to 
gather the rose-leaves and lavender, and Tina was made proud 
and happy by being allowed to carry a handful in her pinafore ; 
happier still, when they were spread out on sheets to dry, so that 
she could sit down like a frog among them, and have them poured 
over her in fragrant showers. Another frequent pleasure was to 
take a journey with Mr. Bates through the kitchen-gardens and 
the hothouses, where the rich bunches of green and purple grapes 
hung from the roof, far out of reach of the tiny yellow hand that 
could not help stretching itself out towards them ; though the 
hand was sure at last to be satisfied with some delicate-flavoured 
fruit or sweet-scented flower. Indeed, in the long monotonous 
leisure of that great country-house, you may be sure there 
was always some one who had nothing better to do than 
to play with Tina. So that the little southern bird had its 
northern nest lined with tenderness, and caresses, and pretty 
things. A loving sensitive nature was too likely, under such 
nurture, to have its susceptibility heightened into unfitness for an 
encounter with any harder experience ; all the more because there 
were gleams of fierce resistance to any discipline that had a harsh 
or unloving aspect. For the only thing in which Caterina showed 
any precocity was a certain ingenuity in vindictiveness. When 
she was five years old she had revenged herself for an unpleasant 
prohibition by pouring the ink into Mrs. Sharp's work-basket; 
and once, when Lady Cheverel took her doll from her, because 
she was affectionately licking the paint off its face, the little minx 
straightway climbed on a chair and threw down a flower-vase 
that stood on a bracket. This was almost the only instance in 
which her anger overcame her awe of Lady Cheverel, who had 
the ascendancy always belonging to kindness that never melts into 
caresses, and is severely but uniformly beneficent. 

By and by the happy monotony of Cheverel Manor was broken 
in upon in the way Mr. Warren had announced. The roads 
through the park were cut up by waggons carrying loads of stone 
from a neighbouring quarry, the green courtyard became dusty 
with lime, and the peaceful house rang with the sound of tools. 
For the next ten years Sir Christopher was occupied with the 
architectural metamorphosis of his old family mansion ; thus 




•tJJJjK^'*^^^* '?-' 1 



* Dey not hurt Tina,' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 155 

anticipating, through the prompting of his individual taste, that 
general reaction from the insipid imitation of the Palladian style, ^ 
towards a restoration of the Gothic, which marked the close of the 
eighteenth century. This was the object he had set his heart on, 
with a singleness of determination which was regarded with not a 
little contempt by his fox-hunting neighbours, who wondered 
greatly that a man with some of the best blood in England in his 
veins should be mean enough to economise in his cellar, and 
reduce his stud to two old coach-horses and a hack, for the sake of 
riding a hobby, and playing the architect. Their wives did not 
see so much to blame in the matter of the cellar and stables, but 
they were eloquent in pity for poor Lady Cheverel, who had to 
live in no more than three rooms at once, and who must be dis- 
tracted with noises, and have her constitution undermined by 
unhealthy smells. It was as bad as having a husband with an 
asthma. Why did not Sir Christopher take a house for her 
at Bath, or, as least, if he must spend his time in overlooking 
workmen, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Manor 1 This 
pity was quite gratuitous, as the most plentiful pity always is ; 
for though Lady Cheverel did not share her husband's architectural 
enthusiasm, she had too rigorous a view of a wife's duties, and too 
profound a deference for Sir Christopher, to regard submission a« 
a grievance. As for Sir Christopher, he was perfectly indifferent 
to criticism. 'An obstinate, crotchety man,' said his neighbours. 
But I, who have seen Cheverel Manor, as he bequeathed it to his 
heirs, rather attribute that unswerving architectural purpose of 
his, conceived and carried out through long years of systematic 
personal exertion, to something of the fervour of genius, as well as 
inflexibility of will ; and in walking through those rooms, with 
their splendid ceilings and their meagre furniture, which tell how 
all the spare money had been absorbed before personal comfort 
was thought of, I have felt that there dwelt in this old English 
baronet some of that sublime spirit which distinguishes art from ' 
luxury, and worships beauty apart from self-indulgence. 

While Cheverel Manor was growing from ugliness into beauty, 
Caterina too was growing from a little yellow bantling into a 
whiter maiden, with no positive beauty indeed, but with a certain 
light airy grace, which, with her large appealing dark eyes, and a 
voice that, in its low-toned tenderness, recalled the love-notes of 
the stock-dove, gave her a more than usual charm. Unlike the 
building, however, Caterina's development was the result of no 
systematic or careful appliances. She grew up very much like 
the primroses, which the gardener is not sorry to see within his 
enclosure, but takes no pains to cultivate. Lady Cheverel taught 



156 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

her to read and write, and say her catechism ; Mr. Warren, being 
a good accountant, gave her lessons in arithmetic, by her ladyship's 
desire ; and Mrs. Sharp initiated her in all the mysteries of the 
needle. But, for a long time, there was no thought of giving her 
any more elaborate education. It is very likely that to her dying 
day Caterina thought the earth stood still, and that the sun and 
stars moved round it ; but so, for the matter of that, did Helen, 
and Dido, and Desdemona, and Juliet ; whence I hope you will 
not think my Caterina less worthy to be a heroine on that accoimt. 
The truth is, that, with one exception, her only^talent lay in 
loving ; and there, it is probable, the most astronomical of women 
could not have surpassed her. Orphan and protegee though 
she was, this supreme talent of hers found plenty of exercise at 
Oheverel Manor, and Caterina had more people to love than many 
a small lady and gentleman affluent in silver mugs and blood 
relations. I think the first place in her childish heart was given 
to Sir Christopher, for little girls are apt to attach themselves to 
the finest-looking gentleman at hand, especially as he seldom has 
anything to do with discipline. Next to the Baronet came 
Dorcas, the merry rosy-cheeked damsel who was Mrs. Sharp's 
lieutenant in the nursery, and thus played the part of the raisins 
in a dose of senna. It was a black day for Caterina when Dorcas 
married the coachman, and went, with a great sense of elevation 
in the world, to preside over a * public ' in the noisy town of 
Sloppeter. A little china box, bearing the motto * Though lost to 
sight, to memory dear,' which Dorcas sent her as a remembrance, 
was among Caterina's treasures ten years after. 

The one other exceptional talent, you already guess, was 
music. When the fact that Caterina had a remarkable ear for 
music, and a still more remarkable voice, attracted Lady 
Cheverel's notice, the discovery was very welcome both to her and 
Sir Christopher. Her musical education became at once an object 
of interest. Lady Cheverel devoted much time to it ; and the 
rapidity of Tina's progress surpassing all hopes, an Italian singing- 
master was engaged, for several years, to spend some months 
together at Cheverel Manor. This unexpected gift made a great 
alteration in Caterina's position. After those first years in which 
little girls are petted like puppies and kittens, there comes a time 
when it seems less obvious what they can be good for, especially 
when, like Caterina, they give no particular promise of cleverness 
or beauty ; and it is not surprising that in that uninteresting 
period there was no particular plan formed as to her future 
position. She could always help Mrs. Sharp, supposing she were 
fit for nothing else, as she grew up ; but now, this rare gift of 






^^iW. 



V,i^- 






!'^/, 'y'; l->'\/=^i' 










/ 



7 






/ 'I { 






7/-^- 



Toddling after him. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 159 

song endeared her to Lady Cheverel, who loved music above all 
things, and it associated her at once with the pleasures of the 
drawing-room. Insensibly she came to be regarded as one of the 
family, and the servants began to understand that Miss Sarti was 
to be a lady after all. 

*And the raight on't too,' said Mr. Bates, *for she hasn't the 
cut of a gell as must work for her bread ; she's as nesh an' dilicate 
as a paich-blossom — welly laike a linnet, wi' on'y joost body anoof 
to hold her voice.' 

But long before Tina had reached this stage of her history, a 
new era had begun for her, in the arrival of a younger companion 
than any she had hitherto known. When she was no more than 
seven, a ward of Sir Christopher's — a lad of fifteen, Maynard 
Gilfil by name — began to spend his vacations at Cheverel Manor, 
and found there no playfellow so much to his mind as Caterina. 
Maynard was an affectionate lad, who retained a propensity to 
white rabbits, pet squirrels, and guinea-pigs, perhaps a little 
beyond the age at which young gentlemen usually look down 
on such pleasures as puerile. He was also much given to fishing, 
and to carpentry, considered as a fine art, without any base view 
to utility. And in all these pleasures it was his delight to have 
Caterina as his companion, to call her little pet names, answer 
her wondering questions, and have her toddling after him as you 
may have seen a Blenheim spaniel trotting after a large setter. 
Whenever Maynard went back to school, there was a little scene 
of parting. 

* You won't forget me, Tina, before I come back again ? I 
shall leave you all the whip-cord we've made ; and don't you let 
Guinea die. Come, give me a kiss, and promise not to forget me.' 

As the years wore on, and Maynard passed from school to 
college, and from a slim lad to a stalwart young man, their 
companionship in the vacations necessarily took a different form, 
but it retained a brotherly and sisterly familiarity. With Maynard 
the boyish aflPection had insensibly grown into ardent love. Among 
all the many kinds of first love, that which begins in childish 
companionship is the strongest and most enduring : when passion 
comes to unite its force to long affection, love is at its spring-tide. 
And Maynard Gilfil's love was of a kind to make him prefer being 
tormented by Caterina to any pleasure, apart from her, which 
the most benevolent magician could have devised for him. It is 
the way with those tall large-limbed men, from Samson down- 
wards. As for Tina, the little minx was perfectly well aware that 
Maynard was her slave ; he was the one person in the world 
whom she did as she pleased with ; and I need not tell you that 



160 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

this was a symptom of her being perfectly heart-whole so far as he 
was concerned : for a passionate woman's love is always over- 
shadowed by fear. 

Maynard Gilfil did not deceive himself in his interpretation of 
Caterina's feelings, but he nursed the hope that some time or 
other she would at least care enough for him to accept his love. 
Bo he waited patiently for the day when he might venture to say, 
* Caterina, I love you ! ' You see, he would have been content 
with very little, being one of those men who pass through life 
without making the least clamour about themselves; thinking 
neither the cut of his coat, nor the flavour of his soup, nor the 
precise depth of a servant's bow, at all momentous. He thought 
— foolishly enough, as lovers vnll think — that it was a good auguiy 
for him when he came to be domesticated at Cheverel Manor in 
the quality of chaplain there, and curate of a neighbouring parish ; 
judging falsely, from his own case, that habit and affection were 
the likeliest avenues to love. Sir Christopher satisfied several 
feelings ir installing Maynard as chaplain in his house. He liked 
the old-fashioned dignity of that domestic appendage ; he liked his 
ward's companionship ; and, as Maynard had some private fortune, 
ho might take life easily in that agreeable home, keeping his 
hunter, and observing a mild regimen of clerical duty, until the 
Cumbermoor living should fall in, when he might be settled for 
life in the neighbourhood of the Manor. * With Caterina for a 
wife, too,' Sir Christopher soon began to think ; for though the 
good Baronet was not at all quick to suspect what was unpleasant 
and opposed to his views of fitness, he was quick to see what 
would dovetail with his own plans ; and he had first guessed, and 
then ascertained, by direct inquiry, the state of Maynard's feelings. 
He at once leaped to the conclusion that Caterina was of the 
same mind, or at least would be, when she was old enough. But 
these were too early days for anything definite to be said or done. 

Meanwhile, new circumstances were arising, which, though 
they made no change in Sir Christopher's plans and prospects, 
converted Mr. Gilfil's hopes into anxieties, and made it clear to 
him not only that Caterina's heart was never likely to be his, but 
that it was given entirely to another. 

Once or twice in Caterina's childhood, there had been another 
boy-visitor at the Manor, younger than Maynard Gilfil — a beauti- 
ful boy with brown curls and splendid clothes, on whom Caterina 
had looked with shy admiration. This was Anthony Wybrow, 
the son of Sir Christopher's younger sister, and chosen heir of 
Cheverel Manor. The Baronet had sacrificed a large sum, and 
even straitened the resources by which he was to carry out his 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 161 

architectural schemes, for the sake of removing the entail from 
his estate, and making this boy his heir — moved to the step, I 
am sorry to say, by an implacable quarrel with his elder sister ; 
for a power of forgiveness was not among Sir Christopher's virtues. 
At length, on the death of Anthony's mother, when he was no 
longer a curly-headed boy, but a tall young man, with a captain's 
commission, Cheverel Manor became his home too, whenever he 
was absent from his regiment. Caterina was then a little woman, 
between sixteen and seventeen, and I need not spend many words 
in explaining what you perceive to be the most natural thing in 
the world. 

There was little company kept at the Manor, and Captain 
Wybrow would have been much duller if Caterina had not been 
there. It was pleasant to pay her attentions — to speak to her 
in gentfe tones, to see her little flutter of pleasure, the blush that 
just lit up her pale cheek, and the momentary timid glance of her 
dark eyes, when he praised her singing, leaning at her side over 
the piano. Pleasant, too, to cut out that chaplain with his large 
calves ! What idle man can withstand the temptation of a woman 
to fascinate, and another man to eclipse ? — especially when it is 
quite clear to himself that he means no mischief, and shall leave 
everything to come right again by and by. At the end of eighteen 
months, however, during which Captain Wybrow had spent much 
of his time at the Manor, he found that matters had reached a 
point which he had not at all contemplated. Gentle tones had 
led to tender words, and tender words had called forth a response 
of looks which made it impossible not to carry on the crescendo 
of love-making. To find one's self adored by a little, graceful, 
dark-eyed, sweet-singing woman, whom no one need despise, is an 
agreeable sensation, comparable to smoking the finest Latakia, 
and also imposes some return of tenderness as a duty. 

. Perhaps you think that Captain Wybrow, who knew that it 
would be ridiculous to dream of his marrying Caterina, must have 
been a reckless libertine to win her affections in this manner ! 
Not at all I He was a young man of calm passions, who was 
rarely led into any conduct of which he could not give a plausible 
account to himself ; and the tiny fragile Caterina was a woman 
who touched the imagination and the affections rather than the 
senses. He really felt very kindly towards her, and would very 
likely have loved her — if he had been able to love any one. But 
nature had not endowed him with that capability. She had given 
him an admirable figure, the whitest of hands, the most delicate 
of nostrils, and a large amount of serene self-satisfaction ; but, as 
if to save such a delicate piece of work from any risk of being 

M 



162 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

shattered, she had guarded him from the liability to a strong 
emotion. There was no list of youthful misdemeanours on record 
against him, and Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel thought him 
the best of nephews, the most satisfactory of heirs, full of grateful 
deference to themselves, and, above all things, guided by a sense 
of duty. Captain Wybrow always did the thing easiest and most 
agreeable to him from a sense of duty : he dressed expensively, 
because it was a duty he owed to his position ; fron^ a sense of 
duty he adapted himself to Sir Christopher's inflexible will, which 
it would have been troublesome as well as useless to resist ; and, 
being of a delicate constitution, he took care of his health from a 
sense of duty. His health was the only point on which he gave 
anxiety to his friends ; and it was owing to this that Sir 
Christopher wished to see his nephew early married, the more so 
as a match after the Baronet's own heart appeared immediately 
attainable. Anthony had seen and admired Miss Assher, the 
only child of a lady who had been Sir Christopher's earliest love, 
but who, as things will happen in this world, had married another 
baronet instead of him. Miss Assher's father was now dead, and 
she was in possession of a pretty estate. If, as was probable, she 
should prove susceptible to the merits of Anthony's person and 
character, nothing could make Sir Christopher so happy as to see 
a marriage which might be expected to secure the inheritance of 
Cheverel Manor from getting into the wrong hands. Anthony 
had already been kindly received by Lady Assher as the nephejv 
of her early friend ; why should he not go to Bath, where she and 
her daughter were then residing, follow up the acquaintance, and 
win a handsome, well-born, and sufficiently wealthy bride ? 

Sir Christopher's wishes were communicated to his nephew, 
who at once intimated his willingness to comply with them — 
from a sense of duty. Caterina was tenderly informed by her 
lover of the sacrifice demanded from them both ; and three days 
afterwards occurred the parting scene you have witnessed in the 
gallery, on the eve of Captain Wy brow's departure for Bath. 



CHAPTER V 

The inexorable ticking of the clock is like the throb of pain to 
sensations made keen by a sickening fear. And so it is with the 
great clockwork of nature. Daisies and buttercups give way to 
the brown waving grasses, tinged with the warm red sorrel ; the' 
waving grasses are swept away, and the meadows lie like emeralds 
set in the bushy hedgerows ; the tawny -tipped corn begins to 
bow with the weight of the full ear ; the reapers are bending 
amongst it, and it soon stands in sheaves ; then, presently, the 
patches of yellow stubble lie side by side with streaks of dark- 
red earth, which the plough is turning up in preparation for 
the new-thrashed seed. And this passage from beauty to beauty, 
which to the happy is like the flow of a melody, measures for 
niany a human heart the approach of foreseen anguish — seems 
hurrying on the moment when the shadow of dread will be 
followed up by the reality of despair. 

How cruelly hasty that summer of 1 788 seemed to Caterina ! 
Surely the roses vanished earlier, and the berries on the mountain- 
ash were more impatient to redden, and briug on the autumn, 
when she would be face to face with her misery, and witness 
Anthony giving all his gentle tones, tender words, and soft looks 
to another. 

Before the end of July, Captain Wybrow had written word 
that Lady Assher and her daughter were about to fly from the 
heat and gaiety of Bath to the shady quiet of their place at 
Farleigh, and that he was invited to join the party there. His 
letters implied that he was on an excellent footing with both the 
ladies, and gave no hint of a rival ; so that Sir Christopher was 
more than usually bright and cheerful after reading them. At 
length, towards the close of August, came the announcement that 
Captain Wybrow was an accepted lover, and after much compli- 
mentary and congratulatory correspondence between the two 
families, it was understood that in September Lady Assher and 
her daughter would pay a visit to Cheverel Manor, when Beatrice 

163 



164 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

would make the acquaintance of her future relatives, and all 
needful arrangements could be discussed. Captain Wybrow 
would remain at Farleigh till then, and accompany the ladies on 
. their journey. 

In the interval, every one at Cheverel Manor had something 
to do by way of preparing for the visitors. Sir Christopher was 
occupied in consultations with his steward and lawyer, and in 
giving orders to every one else, especially in spurring on Francesco 
to finish the saloon. Mr. Gilfil had the responsibility of procur- 
ing a lady's horse, Miss Assher being a great rider. Lady 
Cheverel had unwonted calls to make and invitations to deliver. 
Mr. Bates's turf, and gravel, and flower-beds were always at such 
a point of neatness and finish that nothing extraordinary could be 
done in the garden, except a little extraordinary scolding of the 
under-gardener, and this addition Mr. Bates did not neglect. 

Happily for Caterina, she too had her task, to fill up the long 
dreary daytime : it was to finish a chair-cushion which would 
complete the set of embroidered covers for the drawing-room. 
Lady Cheverel's year-long work, and the only noteworthy bit of 
furniture in the Manor. Over this embroidery she sat with cold 
lips and a palpitating heart, thankful that this miserable sensation 
throughout the daytime seemed to counteract the tendency to tears 
which returned with night and solitude. She was most frightened 
when Sir Christopher approached her. The Baronet's eye was 
brighter and his step more elastic than ever, and it seemed to him 
that only the most leaden or churlish souls could be otherwise than 
brisk and exulting in a world where everything went so well. 
Dear old gentleman ! he had gone through life a little flushed with 
the power of his will, and now his latest plan was succeeding, and 
Cheverel Manor would be inherited by a grand-nephew, whom he 
might even yet live to see a fine young fellow with at least the 
down on his chin. Why not 1 one is still young at sixty. 

Sir Christopher had always something playful to say to 
Caterina. 

* Now, little monkey, you must be in your best voice ; you're 
the minstrel of the Manor, you know, and be sure you have a 
pretty gown and a new ribbon. You must not be dressed in 
russet, though you are a singing-bird.' Or perhaps, ' It is your 
turn to be courted next, Tina. But don't you learn any naughty 
proud airs. I must have Maynard let off easily.' 

Caterina's affection for the old Baronet helped her to summon 
up a smile as he stroked her cheek and looked at her kindly, but 
that was the moment at which she felt it most difficult not to 
burst out crying. Lady Cheverel's conversation and presence were 



MR. GILFIL'S LOYE-STORY 165 

less trying ; for her ladyship felt no more than calm satisfaction in 
this family event ; and, besides, she was further sobered by a little 
jealousy at Sir Christopher's anticipation of pleasure in seeing 
Lady Assher, enshrined in his memory as a mild-eyed beauty of 
sixteen, with whom he had exchanged locks before he went on his 
first travels. Lady Cheverel would have died rather than confess it, 
but she couldn't help hoping that he would be disappointed in 
Lady Assher, and rather ashamed of having called her so charming. 

Mr. Gilfil watched Caterina through these days with mixed 
feelings. Her suffering went to his heart ; but, even for her sake, 
he was glad that a love which could never come to good should be 
no longer fed by false hopes ; and how could he help saying to 
himself, * Perhaps, after a while, Caterina will be tired of fretting 
about that cold-hearted puppy, and then . . .' 

At length the much-expected day arrived, and the brightest of 
September suns was lighting up the yellowing lime-trees, as about 
five o'clock Lady Assher's carriage drove under the portico. 
Caterina, seated at work in her own room, heard the rolling of the 
wheels, followed presently by the opening and shutting of doors, 
and the sound of voices in the corridors. Remembering that the 
dinner-hour was six, and that Lady Cheverel had desired her to be 
in the drawing-room early, she started up to dress, and was 
delighted to find herself feeling suddenly brave and strong. 
Curiosity to see Miss Assher — the thought that Anthony was in 
the house — the wish not to look unattractive, were feelings that 
brought some colour to her lips, and made it easy to attend to 
her toilette. They would ask her to sing this evening, and she 
would sing well. Miss Assher should not think her utterly 
insignificant. So she put on her grey silk gown and her cheery- 
coloured ribbon with as nmch care as if she had been herself the 
betrothed ; not forgetting the pair of round pearl earrings which 
Sir Christopher had told Lady Cheverel to give her, because 
Tina's little ears were so pretty. 

Quick as she had been, she found Sir Christopher and Lady 
Cheverel in the drawing-room chatting with Mr. Gilfil, and 
telling him how handsome Miss Assher was, but how entirely 
unlike her mother — apparently resembling her father only. 

' Aha ! ' said Sir Christopher, as he turned to look at Caterina, 
* what do you think of this, Maynard 1 Did you ever see Tina 
look so pretty before ? Why, that little grey gown has been made 
out of a bit of my lady's, hasn't it? It doesn't take anything 
much larger than a pocket-handkerchief to dress the little 
monkey.' 

Lady Cheverel, too, serenely radiant in the assurance a single 



166 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

glance had given her of Lady Assher's inferiority, smiled approval, 
and Caterina was in one of those moods of self-possession and 
indifference which come as the ebb-tide between the struggles of 
passion. She retired to the piano, and busied herself with arrang- 
ing her music, not at all insensible to the pleasure of being looked 
at with admiration the while, and thinking that, the next time 
the door opened. Captain Wybrow would enter, and she would 
speak to him quite cheerfully. But when she heard him come in, 
and the scent of roses floated towards her, her heart gave one 
great leap. She knew nothing till he was pressing her hand, and 
saying, in the old easy way, * Well, Caterina, how do you do ? 
You look quite blooming.' 

She felt her cheek reddening with anger that he could speak 
and look with such perfect nonchalance. Ah ! he was too deeply 
in love with some one else to remember anything he had felt for 
her. But the next moment she was conscious of her folly ; — ' as 
if he could show any feeling then ! ' This conflict of emotions 
stretched into a long interval the few moments that elapsed before 
the door opened again, and her own attention, as well as that of 
all the rest, was absorbed by the entrance of the two ladies. 

The daughter was the more striking, from the contrast she pre- 
sented to her mother, a round-shouldered, middle-sized woman, who 
had once had the transient pink-and-white beauty of a blonde, 
with ill -defined features and early embonpoint. Miss Assher was 
tall, and gracefully though substantially formed, carrying herself 
with an air of mingled graciousness and self-confidence ; her 
dark -brown hair, untouched by powder, hanging in bushy curls 
round her face, and falling behind in long thick ringlets nearly to 
her waist. The brilliant carmine tint of her well-rounded cheeks, 
and the finely -cut outline of her straight nose, produced an 
impression of splendid beauty, in spite of commonplace brown 
eyes, a narrow forehead, and thin lips. She was in mourning, and 
the dead black of her crape dress, relieved here and there by jet 
ornaments, gave the fullest effect to her complexion, and to the 
rounded whiteness of her arms, bare from the elbow. The first 
coup (Tceil was dazzling, and as she stood looking down with a 
gracious smile on Caterina, whom Lady Cheverel was presenting 
to her, the poor little thing seemed to herself to feel, for the first 
time, all the folly of her former dream. 

' We are enchanted with your place, Sir Christopher,' said Lady 
Assher, with a feeble kind of pompousness, which she seemed to 
be copying from some one else ; ' I'm sure your nephew must have 
thought Farleigh wretchedly out of order. Poor Sir John was so 
very careless about keeping up the house and grounds I often 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 167 

talked to him about it, but he said, " Pooh, pooh ! as long as my 
friends find a good dinner and a good bottle of wine, they won't 
care about my ceilings being rather smoky." He was so very 
hospitable, was Sir John.' 

* I think the view of the house from the park, just after we 
passed the bridge, particularly fine,' said Miss Assher, interposing 
rather eagerly, as if she feared her mother might be making 
infelicitous speeches, * and the pleasure of the first glimpse was 
all the greater because Anthony would describe nothing to us 
beforehand. He would not spoil our first impressions by raising 
false ideas. I long to go over the house, Sir Christopher, and learn 
the history of all your architectural designs, which Anthony says 
have cost you so much time and study.' 

' Take care how you set an old man talking about the past, my 
dear,' said the Baronet ; ' I hope we shall find something pleasanter 
for you to do than turning over my old plans and pictures. Our 
friend Mr. Gihll here has found a beautiful mare for you, and you 
can scour the country to your heart's content. Anthony has sent 
us word what a horsewoman you are.' 

Miss Assher turned to Mr. Gilfil with her most beaming smile, 
and expressed her thanks with the elaborate graciousness of a 
person who means to be thought charming, and is sure of success. 

* Pray do not thank me,' said Mr. Gilfil, * till you have tried 
the mare. She has been ridden by Lady Sara Linter for the last 
two years ; but one lady's taste may not be like another's in 
horses, any more than in other matters.' 

While this conversation was passing. Captain Wybrow was 
leaning against the mantelpiece, contenting himself with respond- 
ing from under his indolent eyelids to the glances Miss Assher 
was constantly directing towards him as she spoke. * She is very 
much in love with him,' thought Caterina. But she was relieved 
that Anthony remained passive in his attentions. She thought, 
too, that he was looking paler and more languid than usual. * If 
he didn't love her very much — if he sometimes thought of the 
past with regret, I think I could bear it all, and be glad to see Sir 
Christopher made happy.' 

During dinner there was a little incident which confirmed 
these thoughts. When the sweets were on the table, there was a 
mould of jelly just opposite Captain Wybrow, and being inclined 
to take some himself, he first invited Miss Assher, who coloured, 
and said, in rather a sharper key than usual, ' Have you not 
learned by this time that I never take jelly ? ' 

* Don't you 1 ' said Captain Wybrow, whose perceptions were 
not acute enough for him to notice the difference of a semitone. 



i68 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* I should have thought you were fond of it. There was always 
some on the table at Farleigh, I think.' 

*You don't seem to take much interest in my likes and 
dislikes.' 

* I'm too much possessed by the happy thought that you like 
me,' was the ex officio reply, in silvery tones. 

This little episode was unnoticed by every one but Caterina. 
Sir Christopher was listening with polite attention to Lady 
Assher's history of her last man-cook, who was first-rate at gravies, 
and for that reason pleased Sir John — he was so particular about 
his gravies, was Sir John : and so they kept the man six years in 
spite of his bad pastiy. Lady Cheverel and Mr. Gilfil were 
smiling at Rupert the bloodhound, who had pushed his great 
head under his master's arm, and was taking a survey of the 
dishes, after snuffling at the contents of the Baronet's plate. 

When the ladies were in the drawing-room again. Lady Assher 
was soon deep in a statement to Lady Cheverel of her views about 
burying people in woollen. 

* To be sure, you must have a woollen dress, because it's the 
law, you know ; but that need hinder no one from putting linen 
underneath. I always used to say, " If Sir John died to-morrow, 
I would bury him in his shirt " ; and I did. And let me advise 
you to do so by Sir Christopher. You never saw Sir John, Lady 
Cheverel. He was a large tall man, with a nose just like Beatrice, 
and so very particular about his shirts.' 

Miss Assher, meanwhile, had seated herself by Caterina, and, 
with that smiling affability which seems to say, * I am really not 
at all proud, though you might expect it of me,' said — 

* Anthony tells me you sing so very beautifully. I hope we 
shall hear you this evening.' 

* Oh yes,' said Caterina, quietly, without smiling ; ^ I always 
sing when I am wanted to sing.' 

* I envy you such a charming talent. Do you know, I have no 
ear ; I cannot hum the smallest tune, and I delight in music so. 
Is it not 'unfortunate '^ But 1 shall have quite a treat while I am 
here ; Captain Wybrow says you will give us some music every 
day.' 

* I should have thought you wouldn't care about music if you 
had no ear,' said Caterina, becoming epigrammatic by force of 
grave simplicity. 

' Oh, I assure you, I doat on it ; and Anthony is so fond of it ; 
it would be so delightful if I could play and sing to him ; though 
he says he likes me best not to sing, because it doesn't belong to 
his idea of me. What style of music do you like best ? ' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 169 

* I don't know. I like all beautiful music' 

* And are you as fond of riding as of music 1 ' 

' No ; I never ride. I think I should be very frightened.' 

* Oh no 1 indeed you would not, after a little practice. I have 
never been in the least timid. I think Anthony is more afraid 
for me than I am for myself; and since I have been riding with 
him, I have been obliged to be more careful, because he is so 
nervous about me.' 

Caterina made no reply ; but she said to herself, * I wish she 
would go away and not talk to me. She only wants me to admire 
her good-nature, and to talk about Anthony.' 

Miss Assher was thinking at the same time. * This Miss Sarti 
seelhs 'a stupid little thing. Those musical people often are. 
But she is prettier than I expected ; Anthony said she was not 
pretty.' 

Happily at this moment Lady Assher called her daughter's 
attention to the embroidered cushions, and Miss Assher, walking 
to the opposite sofa, was soon in conversation with Lady Cheverel 
about tapestry and embroideiy in general, while her mother, 
feeling herself superseded there, came and placed herself beside 
Caterina. 

* I hear you are the most beautiful singer,' was of course the 
opening remark. 'All Italians sing so beautifully. I travelled 
in Italy with Sir John when we were first married, and we went 
to Venice, where they go about in gondolas, you know. You 
don't wear powder, I see. No more will Beatrice ; though many 
people think her curls would look all the better for powder. 
She has so much hair, hasn't she? Our last maid dressed it 
much better than this ; but, do you know, she wore Beatrice's 
stockings before they went to the wash, and we couldn't keep her 
after that, could we 1 ' 

Caterina, accepting the question as a mere bit of rhetorical 
effect, thought it superfluous to reply, till Lady Assher repeated, 
* Could we, now?' as if Tina's sanction were essential to her 
repose of mind. After a faint * No,' she went on. 

' Maids are so very troublesome, and Beatrice is so particular, 
you can't imagine. I often say to her, " My dear, you can't have 
perfection." That very gown she has on — to be sure, it fits 
her beautifully now — but it has been unmade and made up 
again twice. But she is like poor Sir John — he was so very 
particular about his own things, was Sir John. Is Lady 
Cheverel particular?' 

* Rather. But Mrs. Sharp has been her maid twenty years.' 

* I wish there was any chance of our keeping Griffin twenty 



170 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

« 

years. But I am afraid we shall have to part with her because 
her health is so delicate : and she is so obstinate, she will not 
take bitters as I want her. You look delicate, now. Let me 
recommend you to take camomile tea in a morning, fasting. 
Beatrice is so strong and healthy, she never takes any medicine ; 
but if I had had twenty girls, and they had been delicate, I should 
have given them all camomile tea. It strengthens the constitution 
beyond anything. Now, will you promise me to take camomile 
tea?' 

* Thank you ; I'm not at all ill,' said Caterina. * I've always 
been pale and thin.' 

Lady Assher was sure camomile tea would make all the 
difference in the world — Caterina must see if it wouldn't — and 
then went dribbling on like a leaky shower-bath, until the early 
entrance of the gentlemen created a diversion, and she fastened on 
Sir Christopher, who probably began to think that, for poetical 
purposes, it would be better not to meet one's first love again, 
after a lapse of forty years. 

Captain Wybrow, of course, joined his aunt and Miss Assher, 
and Mr. Gilfil tried to relieve Caterina from the awkwardness of 
sitting aloof and dumb, by telling her how a friend of his had 
broken his arm and staked his horse that morning, not at all 
appearing to heed that she hardly listened, and was looking 
towards the other side of the room. One of the tortures of 
jealousy is, that it can never turn away its eyes from the thing 
that pains it. 

By and by every one felt the need of a relief from chit-chat — 
Sir Christopher perhaps the most of all — and it was he who 
made the acceptable proposition — 

* Come, Tina, are we to have no music to-night before we sit 
down to cards? Your ladyship plays at cards, I think?' he 
added, recollecting himself, and turning to Lady Assher. 

* Oh yes ! Poor dear Sir John would have a whis't-table every 
night.' 

Caterina sat down to the harpsichord at once, and had no 
sooner begun to sing than she perceived with delight that Captain 
Wybrow was gliding towards the harpsichord, and soon standing 
in the old place. This consciousness gave fresh strength to her 
voice ; and when she noticed that Miss Assher presently followed 
him with that air of ostentatious admiration which belongs to the 
absence of real enjoyment, her closing bravura was none the worse 
for being animated by a little triumphant contempt. 

■*Why, you are in better voice than ever, Caterina,' said 
Captain Wybrow, when she had ended. ' This is rather different 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 171 

from Miss Hibbert's small piping that we used to be glad of at 
Farleigh, is it not, Beatrice ? ' 

* Indeed it is. You are a most enviable creature, Miss Sarti — 
Caterina — may I not call you Caterina 1 for I have heard Anthony 
speak of you so often, I seem to know you quite well. You will 
let me call you Caterina ? * 

' Oh yes, every one calls me Caterina, only when they call me 
Tina.' 

* Come, come, more singing, more singing, little monkey,' Sir 
Christopher called out from the other side of the room. *We 
have not had half enough yet.' 

Caterina was ready enough to obey, for while she was singing 
she was queen of the room, and Miss Assher was reduced to 
grimacing admiration. Alas ! you see what jealousy was doing in 
this poor young soul. Caterina, who had passed her life as a 
little unobtrusive singing-bird, nestling so fondly under the wings 
that were outstretched for her, her heart beating only to the 
peaceful rhythm of love, or fluttering with some easily stifled 
fear, had begun to know the fierce palpitations of triumph and 
hatred. 

When the singing was over. Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel 
sat down to whist with Lady Assher and Mr. Gilnl, and Caterina 
placed herself at the Baronet's elbow, as if to watch the game, 
that she might not appear to thrust herself on the pair of lovers. 
At first she was glowing with her little triumph, and felt the 
strength of pride ; but her eye would steal to the opposite side of 
the fireplace, where Captain Wybrow had seated himself close to 
Miss Assher, and was leaning with his arm over the back of the 
chair, in the most lover-like position. Caterina began to feel a 
choking sensation. She could see, almost without looking, that 
he was taking up her arm to examine her bracelet ; their heads 
were bending close together, her curls touching his cheek — now 
he was putting his lips to her hand. Caterina felt her cheeks 
bum — she could sit no longer. She got up, pretended to be 
gliding about in search of something, and at length slipped out of 
the room. 

Outside, she took a candle, and, hurrying along the passages 
and up the stairs to her own room, locked the door. 

* Oh, I cannot bear it, I cannot bear it ! ' the poor thing burst 
out aloud, clasping her little fingers, and pressing them back 
against her forehead, as if she wanted to break them. 

Then she walked hurriedly up and down the room. 

* And this must go on for days and days, and I must see it.' 
She looked about neiTously for something to clutch. There 



172 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

was a muslin kerchief lying on the table ; she took it up and tore 
it into shreds as she walked up and down, and then pressed it 
into hard balls in her hand. 

* And Anthony,' she thought, * he can do this without caring 
for what I feel. Oh, he can forget everything : how he used to 
say he loved me — how he used to take my hand in his as ^we 
walked — how he used to stand near me in the evenings for the 
sake of looking into my eyes.' 

* Oh, it is cruel, it is cruel ! ' she burst out again, aloud, as all 
those love-moments in the past returned upon her. Then the 
tears gushed forth, she threw herself on her knees by the bed, 
and sobbed bitterly. 

She did not know how long she had been there, till she was 
startled by the prayer-bell ; when, thinking Lady Cheverel might 
perhaps send some one to inquire after her, she rose, and began 
hastily to undress, that there might be no possibility of her going 
down again. She had hardly unfastened her hair, and thrown a 
loose gown about her, before there was a knock at the door, and 
Mrs. Sharp's voice said — * Miss Tina, my lady wants to know if 
you're ill.' 

Caterina opened the door and said, * Thank you, dear Mrs. 
Sharp ; I have a bad headache ; please tell my lady I felt it come 
on after singing.' 

' Then, goodness me ! why aren't you in bed, instead o' standing 
shivering there, fit to catch your death 1 Come, let me fasten up 
your hair and tuck you up warm.' 

* Oh no, thank you ; I shall really be in bed very soon. 
Good-night, dear Sharpy ; don't scold ; I will be good, and get 
into bed.' 

Caterina kissed her old friend coaxingly, but Mrs. Sharp was 
not to be * come over ' in that way, and insisted on seeing her 
former charge in bed, taking away the candle which the poor 
child had wanted to keep as a companion. 

But it was impossible to lie there long with that beating heart ; 
and the little white figure was soon out of bed again, seeking 
relief in the very sense of chill and uncomfort. It was light 
enough for her to see about her room, for the moon, nearly at full, 
was riding high in the heavens among scattered hurrying clouds. 
Caterina drew aside the window-curtain, and, sitting with her 
forehead pressed against the cold pane, looked out on the wide 
stretch of park and lawn. 

How dreary the moonlight is ! robbed of all its tenderness and 
repose by the hard driving wind. The trees are harassed by that 
tossing motion, when they would like to be at rest ; the shivering 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 173 

grass makes her quake with sympathetic cold ; and the willowsN 
by the pool, bent low and white under that invisible harshness, 
seem agitated and helpless like herself. But she loves the scene ^ 
tbe better for its sadness : there is some pity in it. It is not like 
that hard unfeeling happiness of lovers, flaunting in the eyes of 
misery. 

She set her teeth tight against the window-frame, and the 
tears fell thick and fast. She was so thankful she could cry, for 
the mad passion she had felt when her eyes were dry frightened 
her. If that dreadful feeling were to come on when Lady 
Cheverel was present, she should never be able to contain herself. 

Then there was Sir Christopher — so good to her — so happy 
about Anthony's marriage ; and all the while she had these wicked 
feelings. 

' Oh, I cannot help it, I cannot help it ! ' she said in a loud 
whisper between her sobs. * God, have pity upon me ! ' 

In this way Tina wore out the long hours of the windy moon- 
light, till at last, with weary aching limbs, she lay down in bed 
again, and slept from mere exhaustion. 

While this poor little heart was being bruised with a weight 
too heavy for it, Nature was holding on her calm inexorable way, 
in unmoved and terrible beauty. The stars were rushing in their 
eternal courses ; the tides swelled to the level of the last expectant 
weed ; the sun was making brilliant day to busy nations on the 
other side of the swift earth. The stream of human thought and 
deed was hurrying and broadening onward. The astronomer was 
at his telescope ; the great ships were labouring over the waves ; 
the toiling eagerness of commerce, the fierce spirit of revolution, 
were only ebbing in brief rest ; and sleepless statesmen were 
dreading the possible crisis of the morrow. What were our little 
Tina and her trouble in this mighty torrent, rushing from one 
awful unknown to another ? Lighter than the smallest centre of 
quivering life in the water-drop, hidden and uncared for as the 
pulse of anguish in the breast of the tiniest bird that has fluttered 
down to its nest with the long-sought food, and has found the 
nest torn and empty. 



CHAPTER VI 

The next morning, when Caterina was waked from her heavy 
sleep by Martha bringing in the warm water, the sun was shining, 
the wind had abated, and those hours of suffering in the night 
seemed unreal and dreamlike, in spite of weary limbs and aching 
eyes. She got up and began to dress with a strange feeling of 
insensibility, as if nothing could make her cry again ; and she 
even felt a sort of longing to be downstairs in the midst of 
company, that she might get rid of this benumbed condition by 
contact. 

There are few of us that are not rather ashamed of our sins 
and follies as we look out on the blessed morning sunlight, which 
comes to us like a bright-winged angel beckoning us to quit the 
old path of vanity that stretches its dreary length behind us ; and 
Tina, little as she knew about doctrines and theories, seemed to 
herself to have been both foolish and wicked yesterday. To-day 
she would try to be good ; and when she knelt down to say her 
short prayer — the very form she had learned by heart when she 
was ten years old — she added, * God, help me to bear it ! ' 

That day the prayer seemed to be answered, for after some 
remarks on her pale looks at breakfast, Caterina passed the 
morning quietly. Miss Assher and Captain Wybrow being out 
on a riding excursion. In the evening there was a dinner-party, 
and after Caterina had sung a little, Lady Cheverel, remembering 
that she was ailing, sent her to bed, where she soon sank into a 
deep sleep. Body and mind must renew their force to suffer as 
well as to enjoy. 

On the morrow, however, it was rainy, and every one must 
stay indoors ; so it was resolved that the guests should be taken 
over the house by Sir Christopher, to hear the story of the 
architectural alterations, the family portraits, and the family 
relics. All the party, except Mr. Gilfil, were in the drawing- 
room when the proposition was made ; and when Miss Assher 
rose to go, she looked towards Captain Wybrow, expecting to see 

174 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY l75 

him rise too ; but he kept his seat near the fire, turning his eyes 
towards the newspaper which he had been holding unread in his 
hand. 

* Are you not coming, Anthony ? ' said Lady Cheverel, noticing 
Miss Assher's look of expectation. 

' I think not, if you'll excuse me,' he answered, rising and 
opening the door ; * I feel a little chilled this morning, and I am 
afraid of the cold rooms and draughts.' 

Miss Assher reddened, but said nothing, and passed on. Lady 
Cheverel accompanying her. 

Caterina was seated at work in the oriel window. It was the 
first time she and Anthony had been alone together, and she had 
thought before that he wished to avoid her. But now, surely, 
he wanted to speak to her — he wanted to say something kind. 
Presently he rose from his seat near the fire, and placed bimself 
on the ottoman opposite to her. 

' Well, Tina, and how have you been all this long time ? ' 

Both the tone and the words were an offence to her ; the tone 
was so different from the old one, the words were so cold and 
unmeaning. She answered, with a little bitterness — 

*I think you needn't ask. It doesn't make much difference 
to you.' 

*Is that the kindest thing you have to say to me after my 
long absence ? ' 

* I don't know why you should expect me to say kind things.' 
Captain Wybrow was silent. He wished very much to avoid 

allusions to the past or comments on the present. And yet he 
wished to be well with Caterina. He would have liked to caress 
her, make her presents, and have her think him very kind to her. 
But these women are plaguy perverse ! There's no bringing them 
to look rationally at anything. At last he said, *I hoped you 
would think all the better of me, Tina, for doing as I have done, 
instead of bearing malice towards me. I hoped you would see 
that it is the best thing for every one — the best for your happi- 
ness too.' 

*0h pray don't make love to Miss Assher for the -sake of my 
happiness,' answered Tina. 

At this moment the door opened, and Miss Assher entered, to 
fetch her reticule, which lay on the harpsichord. She gave a 
keen glance at Caterina, whose face was flushed, and saying to 
Captain Wybrow with a slight sneer, * Since you are so chill I 
wonder you like to sit in the window,' left the room again 
immediately. 

The lover did not appear much discomposed, but sat quiet a 



176 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

little longer, and then, seating himself on the music-stool, drew it 
near to Caterina, and, taking her hand, said, * Come, Tina, look 
kindly at me, and let us be friends. I shall always be your 
friend/ 

'Thank you,' said Caterina, drawing away her hand. *You 
are very generous. But pray move away. Miss Assher may 
come in again.' i 

* Miss Assher be hanged ! ' said Anthony, feeling the fascination I 
of old habit returning on him in his proximity to Caterina. He ' 
put his arm round her waist, and leaned his cheek down to hers. 
Th^Jigs couldn't help meeting after that ; but the next moment, 
with heart swelling and tears rising, Caterina burst away from 
him, and rushed out of the room. i 

i 



CHAPTER VII 

Caterina tore herself from Anthony with the desperate effort of 
one who has just self-recollection enough left to be conscious that 
the fumes of charcoal will master his senses unless he bursts a 
way for himself to the fresh air ; but when she reached her own 
room, she w^as still too intoxicated with that momentary revival 
of old emotions, too much agitated by the sudden return of 
tenderness in her lover, to know whether pain or pleasure pre- 
dominated. It was as if a miracle had happened in her little 
world of feeling, and made the future all vague — a dim morning 
haze of possibilities, instead of the sombre wintry daylight and 
clear rigid outline of painful certainty. 

She felt the need of rapid movement. She must walk out in 
spite of the rain. Happily, there was a thin place in the curtain 
of clouds which seemed to promise that now, about noon, the 
day had a mind to clear up. Caterina thought to herself, * I will 
walk to the Mosslands, and carry Mr. Bates the comforter I have 
made for him, and then Lady Cheverel will not wonder so much 
at my going out.' At the hall door she found Rupert, the old 
bloodhound, stationed on the mat, with the determination that 
the first person who was sensible enough to take a walk that 
morning should have the honour of his approbation ai d society. 
As he thrust his great black and tawny head under her hand, 
and wagged his tail with vigorous eloquence, and reached the 
climax of his welcome by jumping up to lick her face, which 
was at a convenient licking height for him, Caterina felt 
quite grateful to the old dog for his friendliness. Animals 
are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no 
criticisms. 

The * Mosslands ' was a remote part of the grounds, encircled 
by the little stream issuing from the pool ; and certainly, for a 
wet day, Caterina could hardly have chosen a less suitable walk, 
for though the rain was abating, and presently ceased altogether, 
there was still a smart shower falling from the trees which arched 

177 N 



178 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

over the greater part of her way. But she found just the desired 
relief from her feverish excitement in labouring along the wet 
paths with an umbrella that made her arm ache. This amount 
of exertion was to her tiny body what a day's hunting often was 
to Mr. Gilfil, who at times had his fits of jealousy and sadness 
to get rid of, and wisely had recourse to nature's innocent opium 
— fatigue. 

When Caterina reached the pretty arched wooden bridge which 
formed the only entrance to the Mosslands for any but webbed 
feet, the sun had mastered the clouds, and was shining through 
the boughs of the tall elms that made a deep nest for the gardener's 
cottage — turning the raindrops into diamonds, and inviting the 
nasturtium flowers cre"^ping over the porch and low-thatched roof 
to lift up their flame-coloured heads once more. The rooks were 
cawing with many-voiced monotony, apparently — by a remarkable 
approximation to human intelligence — finding great conversational 
resources in the change of weather. The mossy turf, studded with 
the broad blades of marsh-loving plants, told that Mr. Ba tes's q est_ 
was rather damp in the best of weather ; but he was of opinion 
that a little external moisture would hurt no man who was not 
perversely neglectful of that obvious and providential antidote, 
rum-and-water. 

Caterina loved this nest. Every object in it, every sound that 
haunted it, had been familiar to her from the days when she had 
been carried thither on Mr. Bates's arm, making little cawing 
noises to imitate the rooks, clapping her hands at the green frogs 
leaping in the moist grass, and fixing grave eyes on the gardener's 
fowls cluck-clucking under their pens. And now the spot looked 
prettier to her than ever ; it was so out of the way of Miss Assher, 
with her brilliaut beauty, and personal claims, and small civil 
remarks. She thought Mr. Bates would not be come into his 
dinner yet, so she would sit down and wait for him. 

But she was mistaken. Mr. Bates was seated in his arm-chair, 
with his pocket-handkerchief thrown over his face as the most 
eligible mode of passing away those superflous hours between meals 
when the weather drives a man indoors. Koused by the furious 
barking of his chained bull-dog, he descried his little favourite 
approaching, and forthwith presented himself at the doorway, 
looking disproportionately tall compared with the height of his 
cottage. The bulldog, meanwhile, unbent from the severity of 
his official demeanour, and commenced a friendly interchange of 
ideas with Rupert. 

Mr. Bates's hair was now grey, but his frame was none the 
less stalwart, and his face looked all the redder, making an artistic 




Labouring along the wet paths. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 181 

contrast with the deep blue of his cotton neckerchief, and of his 
linen apron twisted into a girdle round his waist. 

' Why, dang my boottons. Miss Tiny,' he exclaimed, * hoo coom 
ye to coom oot dabblin' your fact laike a little Muscovy duck, sich 
a day as this ? Not but what ai'm delaighted to sae ye. Here, 
Hesther,' he called to his old humpbacked housekeeper, *tek the 
young ledy's oombrella an' spread it oot to dray. Coom, coom in, 
Misg Tiny, an' set ye doon by the faire an' dray yer fact, an' hev 
summat warm to kape ye from ketchin' cooid.' 

Mr. Bates led the way, stooping under the door-places, into 
his small sitting-room, and, shaking the patchwork cushion in his 
arm-chair, moved it to within a good roasting distance of the 
blazing fire. 

'Thank you, uncle Bates' (Caterina kepi up her childish 
epithets for her friends, and this was one of them) ; * not quite so 
close to the fire, for I am warm with walking.' 

' Eh, but yer shoes are faine an' wet, an' ye must put up yer 
faet on the fender. Rare big fact, baint 'em ? — aboot the saize of 
a good big spoon. I woonder ye can mek a shift to stan' on 'em. 
Now, what'U ye hev to warm yer insaide ? — a drop o' hot elder 
wain, now?' . 

* No, not anything to drink, thank you : it isn't very long 
since breakfast,' said Caterina, drawing out the comforter from 
her deep pocket. Pockets were capacious in those days. * Look 
here, uncle Bates, here is what I came to bring you. I made it 
on purpose for you. You must wear it this winter, and give your 
red one to old Brooks.' 

' Eh, Miss Tiny, this is a beauty. An' ye made it all wi' yer 
little fingers for an old feller laike mae ! I tek it very kaind on 
ye, an' I belave ye I'll wear it, and be prood on't too. These 
sthraipes, blue an' whaite, now, they mek it uncommon pritty.' 

* Yes, that will suit your complexion, you know, better than 
the old scarlet one. I know Mrs. Sharp will be more in love with 
you than ever when she sees you in the new one.' 

* My complexion, ye little roogue ! ye're a-laughin' at me. But 
talkin' o' complexions, what a beautiful colour the bride as is to 
be has on her cheeks ! Dang my boottons ! she looks faine and 
handsome o' hossback — sits as upraight as a dart, wi' a figure like 
a statty ! Misthress Sharp has promised to put me behaind one o' 
the doors when the ladies are comin' doon to dinner, so as I may 
sae the young un i' full dress, wi' all her curls an' that. Misthress 
Sharp says she's almost beautifuller nor my ledy was when she 
was yoong ; an' I think ye'll noot faind many i' the counthry as'll 
coom up to that.' 



182 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

*Yes, Miss Assher is very handsome,' said Caterina, rather 
faintly, feeling the sense of her own insignificance returning at this 
picture of the impression Miss Assher made on others. 

* Well, an' I hope she's good too, an'U mek a good naice to Sir 
Cristhifer an' my ledy. Misthress Griffin, the maid, says as she's 
rether tatchy and find-fautin' aboot her cloothes, laike. But she's 
yoong — she's yoong ; that'll wear oflf when she's got a hoosband, 
an' children, an' summat else to think on. Sir Cristhifer's fain 
an' delaighted, I can see. He says to me th' other mornin', says 
he, " Well, Bates, what do you think of your young misthress as is 
to be ? " An' I says, " Whay, yer honour, I think she's as fain a 
lass as iver I set eyes on ; an' I wish the Captain luck in a fain 
family, an' your honour laife an' health to see't." Mr. Warren 
says as the masther's all for forrardin' the weddin', an' it'll very 
laike be afore the autumn's oot.' 

As Mr. Bates ran on, Caterina felt something like a painful 
contraction at her heart. *Yes,' she said, rising, *I daresay it 
will. Sir Christopher is very anxious for it. But I must go, 
uncle Bates ; Lady Cheverel will be wanting me, and it is your 
dinner-time.' 

' Nay, my dinner doon't sinnify a bit ; but I moosn't kaep ye 
if my ledy wants ye. Though I hevn't thanked ye half anoof for 
the comfiter — the wrapraskil, as they call't. My feckins, it's a 
beauty. But ye look very whaite and sadly, Miss Tiny ; I doubt 
ye're poorly ; an' this walking i' th' wet isn't good for ye.' 

* Oh yes, it is indeed,' said Caterina, hastening out, and taking 
up her umbrella from the kitchen floor. * I must really go now ; 
so good-bye.' 

She tripped off, calling Rupert, while the good gardener, his 
hands thrust deep in his pockets, stood looking after her and 
shaking his head with rather a melancholy air. 

* She gets moor nesh and dillicat than iver,' he said, half to 
himself and half to Hester. *I shouldn't woonder if she fades 
away laike them cyclamens as I transplanted. She puts me i' 
maind on 'em somehow, hangin' on their little thin stalks, so 
whaite an' tinder.' ") 

The poor little thing made her way back, no longer hungering 
for the cold moist air as a counteractive of inward excitement, 
but with a chill at her heart which made the outward chill only 
depressing. The golden sunlight beamed through the dripping 
boughs like a Shecbinah, or visible divine presence, and the birds 
were chirping and trilling their new autumnal songs so sweetly, it 
seemed as if their throats, as well as the air, were all the clearer 
for the rain ; but Caterina moved through all this joy and beauty 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 183 

like a poor wounded leveret painfully dragging its little body 
through the sweet clover- tufts — for it, sweet in vain. Mr. Bates's 
words about Sir Christopher's joy, Miss Assher's beauty, and the 
nearness of the wedding, had come upon her like the pressure of a 
cold hand, rousing her from confused dozing to a perception of 
hard, familiar realities. It is so with emotional natures, whose 
thoughts are no more than the fleeting shadows cast by feeling : 
to them words are facts, and even when known to be false, have 
a mastery over their smiles and tears. Caterina entered her own 
room again, with no other change from her former state of 
despondency and wretchedness than an additional sense of injury 
from Anthony. His behaviour towards her in the morning was a 
new wrong. To snatch a caress when she justly claimed an 
expression of penitence, of regret, of sympathy, was to make more 
light of her than ever. 



CHAPTER VIII 

That evening Miss Assher seemed to carry herself with unusual 
haughtiness, and was coldly observant of Caterina. There was 
unmistakably thunder in the air. Captain Wybrow appeared to 
take the matter very easily, and was inclined to brave it out by 
paying more than ordinary attention to Caterina. Mr. Gilfil had 
induced her to play a game at draughts with him, Lady Assher 
being seated at picquet with Sir Christopher, and Miss Assher in 
determined conversation with Lady Cheverel. Anthony, thus left 
as an odd unit, sauntered up to Caterina's chair, and leaned behind 
her, watching the game. Tina, with all the remembrances of the 
morning thick upon her, felt her cheeks becoming more and more 
crimson, and at last said impatiently, * I wish you would go away.' 

This happened directly imder the view of Miss Assher, who 
saw Caterina's reddening cheeks, saw that she said something 
impatiently, and that Captain Wybrow moved away in consequence. 
There was another person, too, who had noticed this incident with 
strong interest, and who was moreover aware that Miss Assher 
not only saw, but keenly observed what was passing. That 
other person was Mr. Gilfil, and he drew some painful conclusions 
which heightened his anxiety for Caterina. 

The next morning, in spite of the fine weather. Miss Assher 
declined riding, and Lady Cheverel, perceiving that there was 
something wrong between the lovers, took care that they should 
be left together in the drawing-room. Miss Assher, seated on the 
sofa near the fire, was busy with some fancy-work, in which she 
seemed bent on making great progress this morning. Captain 
Wybrow sat opposite with a newspaper in his hand, from which 
he obligingly read extracts with an elaborately easy air, wilfully 
unconscious of the contemptuous silence with which she pursued 
her filigree work. At length he put down the paper, which he 
could no longer pretend not to have exhausted, and Miss Assher 
then said — 

* You seem to be on very intimate terms with Miss Sarti.' 

184 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 185 

* "With Tina "? oh yes ; she has always been the pet of the 
house, you know. We have been quite brother and sister 
together.' 

' Sisters don't generally colour so very deeply when their 
brothers approach them.' 

' Does she colour ? I never noticed it. Put she's a timid 
little thing.' 

' It would be much better if you would not be so hypocritical, 
Captain Wybrow. I am confident there has been some flirtation 
between you. Miss Sarti, in her position, would never speak to 
you with the petulance she did last night, if you had not given 
her some kind of claim on you.' 

' My dear Beatrice, now do be reasonable ; do ask yourself 
what earthly probability there is that I should think of flirting 
with poor little Tina. Is there anything about her to attract that 
sort of attention ? She is more child than woman. One thinks 
of her as a little girl to be petted and played with.' 

* Pray, what were you playing at with her yesterday morning, 
when I came in unexpectedly, and her cheeks were flushed, and 
her hands trembling T 

* Yesterday morning ? — Oh, I remember. You know I always 
tease her about Gilfil, who is over head and ears in love with her ; 
and she is angry at that, — perhaps, because she likes him. They 
were old playfellows years before I came here, and Sir Christopher 
has set his heart on their marrying.' 

' Captain Wybrow, you are very false. It had nothing to do 
with Mr. Gilfil that she coloured last night when you leaned over 
her chair. You might just as well be candid. If your own mind 
is not made up, pray do no violence to yourself I am quite ready 
to give way to Miss Sarti's superior attractions. Understand 
that, so far as I am concerned, you are perfectly at liberty. I 
decline any share in the affection of a man who forfeits my respect 
by duplicity.' 

In saying this Miss Assher rose, and was sweeping haughtily 
out of the room, when Captain Wybrow placed himself before her, 
and took her hand. 

' Dear, dear Beatrice, be patient ; do not judge me so rashly. 
Sit down again, sweet,' he added in a pleading voice, pressing both 
her hands between his, and leading her back to the sofa, where he 
sat down beside her. Miss Assher was not unwilling to be led 
back or to listen, but she retained her cold and haughty expression. 

* Can you not trust me, Beatrice 1 Can you not believe me, 
although there may be things I am unable to explain ^ ' 

*Why should there be anything you are unable to explain? 



186 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

An honourable man will not be placed in circumstances which he 
cannot explain to the woman he seeks to make his wife. He will 
not ask her to believe that he acts properly ; he will let her know 
that he does so. Let me go, sir.' 

She attempted to rise, but he passed his hand round her waist 
and detained her. 

* Now, Beatrice dear,' he said imploringly, * can you not under- 
stand that there are things a man doesn't like to talk about — 
secrets that he must keep for the sake of others, and not for his 
own sake ? Everything that relates to myself you may ask me, 
but do not ask me to tell other people's secrets. Don't you 
understand me ? ' 

* Oh yes,' said Miss Assher scornfully, * I understand. When- 
\ ever you make love to a woman — that is her secret, which you are 
^ bound to keep for her. But it is folly to be talking in this way, 

Captain Wybrow. It is very plain that there is some relation 
more than friendship between you and Miss Sarti. Since you can- 
not explain that relation, there is no more to be said between us.' 

* Confound it, Beatrice ! you'll drive me mad. Can a fellow 
help a girl's falling in love with him ? Such things are always 
happening, but men don't talk of them. These fancies will spring 
up without the slightest foundation, especially when a woman sees 
few people ; they die out again when there is no encouragement. 
If you could like me, you ought not to be surprised that other 
people can ; you ought to think the better of them for it.' 

* You mean to say, then, that Miss Sarti is in love with you, 
without your ever having made love to her.' 

* Do not press me to say such things, dearest. It is enough 
that you know I love you — that I am devoted to you. You 
naughty queen, you, you know there is no chance for any one else 
where you are. You are only tormenting me, to prove your 
power over me. But don't be too cruel ; for you know they say I 
have another heart-disease besides love, and these scenes bring on 
terrible palpitations.' 

* But I must have an answer to this one question,' said Miss 
Assher, a little softened : * has there been, or is there, any love on 
your side towards Miss Sarti ? I have nothing to do with her 
feelings, but I have a right to know yours.' 

^ I like Tina very much ; who would not liice such a little 
simple thing ? You would not wish me not to like her ? But 
love — that is a very different affair. One has a brotherly affection 
for such a woman as Tina ; but it is another sort of woman that 
one loves.' 

These last words were made doubly significant by a look of 







Riding excursions. 




"^ff^K 



MJi. (Jlf.i'lL'S LoVli-sTOT'A ]-: 

r-MfvirnitVN.>, and a kiss ini[)riiitoil on Ww li?';n] ^'.^. c.'.v Vv^l-.-.^ 
.' .'J in h>>. Mir.>» A>^1h*i* Wiis cnnqnt'iiil. it vv;i- -.■ \-v t';* m 

.>.-..!>-lK:> \\uA AnthuiV sliuuM l-Ae tllJlt pMlr >!-_'iiill< -tT I't^'r 

.iiiri-.T -"• hl^'ily pi-,)iMl'«' that ]v >]in\iU luufw lii.- 1....'- \\'\\' j\ . 
\--^li-.T. i)Ti the Nvhi.it', it *v.i- v'•^:u^■] r\\''\^ i •; .' ..r ■ r 

v\.iiL.'n .^huuhl hr lanijuishiii.ii: tor ht-T 1' : ;i-"ij'i !• . • * '•<;•.•; 

•^a^ an tx<|Mi-ii<' iTeuturc. Ponv Miss >air: ' ^''.•:.. .^••.- a a: ! 

j;«'r ..Vim- ir. 

C';i})t.'iiu Wvi row saw his advatitaL^c T. -in.-, sw -•••i |.V'. 'i 

• ontiimtd, * Irt u> talk no more alnhii rt.;VM>- ; ('■ /- \ ' 
will ktu'p Tinas sH-n^t, run! be a t'ly K'Hi'! to . • '«»,.-. •. 
*''r ijjy sake. Hut you will ride out ru'W f >• ■ ■ ;■ .: i * . .- 

• iay it is for ridinfr. Let me ordt-r the h )'■'<*->. I •; j • ' x 
waiji ot the. air. (.'onie, icive in.- one fuvS^ '^'' ^'-^ ^'. ''- '• • 
will <;().' 

Ali.s^ Assher complied vsith the (h>uhl« »»mi. -t. i: < - v^ • ; 
to tiqiiip herself fur the ridii, wiiile her lu\v'r v..- • ! •• '■ .a' ■ 



* *• 



r 




>v 






li'uVo"^, <.'\c ms"i- 



«# •^ 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVErSTORY 187 

tenderness, and a kiss imprinted on the hand Captain Wybrow 
held in his. Miss Assher was conquered. It was so far from 
probable that Anthony should love that pale insignificant little 
thing — so highly probable that he should adore the beautiful Miss 
Assher. On the whole, it was rather gratifying that other 
women should be languishing for her handsome lover ; he really 
was an exquisite creature. Poor Miss Sarti ! Well, she would 
get over it. 

Captain Wybrow saw his advantage. * Come, sweet love,' he 
continued, ^ let us talk no more about unpleasant things. You 
will keep Tina's secret, and be very kind to her — won't you ? — 
for my sake. But you will ride out now ? See what a glorious 
day it is for riding. Let me order the horses. I'm terribly in 
want of the air. Come, give me one forgiving kiss, and say you 
will go.' 

Miss Assher complied with the double request, and then went 
to equip herself for the ride, while her lover walked to the stables. 



CHAPTER IX 

Meanwhile Mr. Gilfil, who had a heavy weight on his mind, 
had watched for the moment when, the two elder ladies having 
driven out, Caterina would probably be alone in Lady Cheverel's 
sitting-room. He went up and knocked at the door. 

*Come in,' said the sweet mellow voice, always thrilling to 
him as the sound of rippling water to the thirsty. 

He entered and found Caterina standing in some confusion, as 
if she had been startled from a reverie. She felt relieved when 
she saw it was Maynard, but, the next moment, felt a little 
pettish that he should have come to interrupt and frighten her. 

' Oh, it is you, Maynard ! Do you want Lady Cheverel ? ' 

* No, Caterina,' he answered gravely ; ' I want you. I have 
something very particular to say to you. Will you let me sit 
down with you for half an hour 1 ' 

* Yes, dear old preacher,' said Caterina, sitting down with an 
air of weariness ; * what is it ? ' 

Mr. Gilfil placed himself opposite to her, and said, 'I hope 
you will not be hurt, Caterina, by what I am going to say to 
you. I do not speak from any other feelings than real affection 
and anxiety for you. I put everything else out of the question. 
You know you are more to me than all the world ; but I will not 
thrust before you a feeling which you are unable to return. I 
speak to you as a brother — the old Maynard that used to scold 
you for getting your fishing-line tangled ten years ago. You will 
not believe that I have any mean, selfish motive in mentioning 
things that are painful to you 1 ' 

' No ; I know you are very good," said Caterina, abstractedly. 

* From what I saw yesterday evening,' Mr. Gilfil went on, 
Hesitating and colouring slightly, * I am led to fear — pray forgive 
me if I am wrong, Caterina — that you — that Captain Wybrow is 
base enough still to trifle with your feelings, that he still allows 
himself to behave to you as no man ought who is the declared 
lover of another woman.' 

188 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 189 

'What do you mean, Maynard?' said Caterina, with anger 
flashing from her eyes. * Do you mean that I let him make love 
to me ? What right have you to think that of me ] What do 
you mean that you saw yesterday evening 1 ' 

'Do not be angry, Caterina. I don't suspect you of doing 
wrong. I only suspect that heartless puppy of behaving so as to 
keep awake feelings in you that not only destroy your own peace 
of mind, but may lead to very bad consequences with regard to 
others. I want to warn you that Miss Assher has her eyes open 
on what passes between you and Captain Wybrow, and I feel 
sure she is getting jealous of you. Pray be very careful, Caterina, 
and try to behave with politeness and indifference to him. You 
must see by this time that he is not worth the feeling you have 
given him. He's more disturbed at his pulse beating one too 
many in a minute, than at all the misery he has caused you by 
his foolish trifling.' 

' You ought not to speak so of him, Maynard,' said Caterina, 
passionately. ' He is not what you think. He did care for me ; 
he did love me ; only he wanted to do what his uncle wished.' 

' Oh, to be sure ! I know it is only from the most virtuous 
motives that he does what is most convenient to himself 

Mr. Gilfil paused. He felt that he was getting irritated, and 
defeating his own object. Presently he continued in a calm and 
aft'ectionate tone. 

'I will say no more about what I think of him, Caterina. 
But whether he loved you or not, his position now with Miss 
Assher is such that any love you may cherish for him can bring 
nothing but misery. God knows, I don't expect you to leave oft' 
loving him at a moment's notice. Time and absence, and trying 
to do what is right, are the only cures. If it were not that Sir 
Christopher and Lady Cheverel would be displeased and puzzled 
at your wishing to leave home just now, I would beg you to pay 
a visit to my sister. She and her husband are good creatures, and 
would make their house a home to you. But I could not urge 
the thing just now without giving a special reason ; and what is 
most of all to be dreaded is the raising of any suspicion in Sir 
Christopher's mind of what has happened in the past, or of your 
present feelings. You think so too, don't you, Tina ? ' 

Mr. Gilfil paused again, but Caterina said nothing. She was 
looking away from him, out of the window, and her eyes were 
filling with tears. He rose, and, advancing a little towards her, 
held out his hand and said — 

' Forgive me, Caterina, for intruding on your feelings in this 
way. I was so afraid you might not be aware how Miss Assher 



190 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

watched you. Remember, I entreat you, that the peace of the 
whole family depends on your power of governing yourself. Only 
say you forgive me before I go.' 

* Dear, good Maynard,* she said, stretching out her little hand, 
and taking two of his large fingers in her grasp, while her tears 
flowed fast ; * I am very cross to you. But my heart is breaking. 
I don't know what I do. Good-bye.' 

He stooped down, kissed the little hand, and then left the 
room. 

* The cursed scoundrel ! ' he muttered between his teeth, as he 
closed the door behind him. ' If it were not for Sir Christopher, 
I should like to pound him into paste to poison puppies like 
himself ! ' 



CHAPTER X 

That evening Captain Wybrow, returning from a long ride with 
Miss Assher, went up to his dressing-room, and seated himself 
with an air of considerable lassitude before his mirror. The 
reflection there presented of his exquisite self was certainly paler 
and more worn than usual, and might excuse the anxiety with 
which he first felt his pulse, and then laid his hand on his heart. 

* It's a devil of a position this for a man to be in,' was the 
train of his thpiighj^ as he kept his eyes fixed on the glass, while 
he leaned back in his chair, and crossed his hands behind his 
head ; * between two jealous women, and both of them as ready 
to take fire as tinder. And in my state of health, too ! I should 
be glad enough to run away from the whole affair, and go off to 
some lotos-eating place or other where there are no women, or 
only women who are too sleepy to bp jealous. Here am I, doing 
nothing to please myself, trying to do the best thing for everyy 
body else, and all the comfort I get is to have fire shot at me froiati 
women's eyes, and venom spirted at me from women's tongues. 
If Beatrice takes another jealous fit into her head — and it's likely 
enough, Tina is so unmanageable— I don't know what storm she 
may raise. And any hitch in this marriage, especially of that 
sort, might be a fatal business for the old gentleman. I wouldn't 
have such a blow fall upon him for a great deal. Besides, a man 
must be married some time in his life, and I could hardly do 
better than marry Beatrice. She's an uncommonly fine woman, 
and I'm really very fond of her ; and as I shall let her have her 
own way, her temper won't signify much. I wish the wedding 
was over and done with, for this fuss doesn't suit me at all. I 
haven't been half so well lately. That scene about Tina this 
morning quite upset me. Poor little Tina ! What a little 
simpleton it was, to set her heart on me in that way ! But she 
ought to see how impossible it is that things should be different. 
If she would but understand how kindly I feel towards her, and 
make up her mind to look on me as a friend ; — but that is what 

191 



192 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

one never can get a woman to do. Beatrice is very good-natured ; 
I'm sure she would be kind to the little thing. It would be a 
great comfort if Tina would take to Gilfil, if it were only in 
anger against me. He'd make her a capital husband, and I 
should like to see the little grasshopper happy. If I had been in 
a different position, I would certainly have married her myself; 
but that was out of the question with my responsibilities to Sir 
Christopher. I think a little persuasion from my uncle would 
bring her to accept Gilfil ; I know she would never be able to 
oppose my uncle's wishes. And if they were once married, she's 
such a loving little thing, she would soon be billing and cooing 
with him as if she had never known me. It would certainly be 
the best thing for her happiness if that marriage were hastened. 
>^ Heigh ! Those are lucky fellows that have no women falling in 
love with them. It's a confounded responsibility.' 

At this point in his meditations he turned his head a little, so 
as to get a three-quarter view of his face. Clearly it was the 
' dono infelice delta hellezza ' that laid these onerous duties upon 
him — an idea which naturally suggested that he should ring for 
his valet. 

For the next few days, however, there was such a cessation of 
threatening symptoms as to allay the anxiety both of Captain 
Wybrow and Mr. Gilfil. All earthly things have their lull : even 
on nights when the most unappeasable wind is raging, there will 
be a moment of stillness before it crashes among the boughs 
again, and storms against the windows, and howls like a thousand 
lost demons through the keyholes. 

Miss Assher appeared to be in the highest good -humour ; 
Captain Wybrow was more assiduous than usual, and was very 
circumspect in his behaviour to Caterina, on whom Miss Assher 
bestowed unwonted attentions. The weather was brilliant ; there 
were riding excursions in the mornings and dinner-parties in the 
evenings. Consultations in the library between Sir Christopher 
and Lady Assher seemed to be leading to a satisfactory result ; 
and it was understood that this visit at Cheverel Manor would 
terminate in another fortnight, when the preparations for the 
wedding would be carried forward with all despatch at Farleigh. 
The Baronet seemed every day more radiant. Accustomed to 
view people who entered into his plans by the pleasant light 
which his own strong will and bright hopefulness were always 
casting on the ftiture, he saw nothing but personal charms and 
promising domestic qualities in Miss Assher, whose quickness of 
eye and taste in externals formed a real ground of sympathy 
between her and Sir Christopher. Lady Cheverel's enthusiasm 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 193 

never rose above the temperate mark of calm satisfaction, and, 
having quite her share of the critical acumen which characterises 
the mutual estimates of the fair sex, she had a more moderate 
opinion of Miss Assher's qualities. She suspected that the fair 
Beatrice had a sharp and imperious temper ; and being herself, on 
principle and by habitual self-command, the most deferential of 
wives, she noticed with disapproval Miss Assher's occasional air 
of authority towards Captain Wybrow. A proud woman who 
has learned to submit, carries all her pride to the reinforcement 
of her submission, and looks down with severe superiority on all 
feminine assumption as 'unbecoming.' Lady Cheverel, however, 
confined her criticisms to the privacy of her own thoughts, and, 
with a reticence which I fear may seem incredible, did not use 
them as a means of disturbing her husband's complacency. 

And Caterina 1 How did she pass these sunny autumn days, 
in which the skies seemed to be smiling on the family gladness ? 
To her the change in Miss Assher's manner was unaccountable. 
Those compassionate attentions, those smiling condescensions, 
were torture to Caterina, who was constantly tempted to repulse 
them with anger. She thought, * Perhaps Anthony has told her 
to be kind to poor Tina.' This was an insult. He ought to 
have known that the mere presence of Miss Assher was painful to 
her, that Miss Assher's smiles scorched her, that Miss Assher's 
kind words were like poison stings inflaming her to madness. 
And he — Anthony — he was evidently repenting of the tenderness 
he had been betrayed into that morning in the drawing-room. 
He was cold and distant and civil to her, to ward off Beatrice's 
suspicions, and Beatrice could be so gracious now, because she was 
sure of Anthony's entire devotion. Well ! and so it ought to be 
— and she ought not to wish it otherwise. And yet — oh, he was 
cruel to her. She could never have behaved so to him. To 
make her love him so — to speak such tender words — to give her 
such caresses, and then to behave as if such things had never 
been. He had given her the poison that seemed so sweet while 
she was drinking it, and now it was in her blood, and she was 
helpless. 

With this tempest pent up in her bosom, the poor child went 
up to her room every night, and there it all burst forth. There, 
with loud whispers and sobs, restlessly pacing up and down, lying 
on the hard floor, courting cold and weariness, she told to the 
pitiful listening night the anguish which she could pour into no 
mortal ear. But always sleep came at last, and always in the 
morning the reactive calm that enabled her to live through the 
day. 



194 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

It is amazing how long a young frame will go on battling with 
this sgrt of secret wretchedness, and yet show no traces of the 
conflict for any but sympathetic eyes. The very delicacy of 
Caterina's usual appearance, her natural paleness and habitually 
quiet mouse-like ways, made any symptoms of fatigue and suft'ering 
less noticeable. And her singing — the one thing in which she 
ceased to be passive, and became prominent — lost none of its 
energy. She herself sometimes wondered how it was that, whether 
she felt sad or angry, crushed with the sense of Anthony's indiffer- 
ence, or burning with impatience under Miss Assher's attentions, 
it was always a relief to her to sing. Those full deep notes she 
sent forth seemed to be lifting the pain from her heart — seemed 
to be cariying away the madness from her brain. 

Thus Lady Cheverel noticed no change in Caterina, and it was 
only Mr. Gilfil who discerned with anxiety the feverish spot that 
sometimes rose on her cheek, the deepening violet tint under her 
eyes, and the strange absent glance, the unhealthy glitter of the 
beautiful eyes themselves. 

But those agitated nights were producing a more fatal effect 
than was represented by these slight outward changes. 



CHAPTER XI 

The following Sunday, the morning being rainy, it was determined 
that the family should not go to Cumbermoor Church as usual, 
but that Mr. Gilfil, who had only an afternoon service at his 
curacy, should conduct the morning service in the chapel. 

Just before the appointed hour of eleven, Caterina came down 
into the drawing-room, looking so unusually ill as to call forth an 
anxious inquiry from Lady Cheverel, who, on learning that she 
had a severe headache, insisted that she should not attend service, 
and at once packed her up comfortably on a sofa near the fire, 
putting a volume of Tillotson's Sermons into her hands — as 
appropriate reading, if Caterina should feel equal to that means 
of edification. 

Excellent medicine for the mind are the good Archbishop's 
sermons, but a medicine, unhappily, not suited to Tina's case. 
She sat with the book open on her knees, her dark eyes fixed 
vacantly on the portrait of that handsome Lady Cheverel, wife of 
the notable Sir Anthony. She gazed at the picture without 
thinking of it, and the fair blonde dame seemed to look down on 
her with that benignant unconcern, that mild wonder, with which 
happy self-possessed women are apt to look down on their 
agitated and weaker sisters. 

Caterina was thinking of the near future — of the wedding that 
was so soon to come — of all she would have to live through in the 
next months. 

' I wish I could be very ill, and die before then,' she thought. 
* When people get very ill, they don't mind about things. Poor 
Patty Richards looked so happy when she was in a decline. She 
didn't seem to care any more about her lover that she was engaged 
to be married to, and she liked the smell of the flowers so, that 
I used to take her. Oh, if I could but like anything — if I could 
but think about anything else 1 If these dreadful feelings would 
go away, I wouldn't mind about not being happy. I wouldn't 
want anything — and I could do what would please Sir Christopher 

195 



196 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

and Lady Cheverel. But when that rage and anger comes into me, 
I don't know what to do. I don't feel the ground under me ; I only- 
feel my head and heart beating, and it seems as if I must do 
something dreadful. Oh ! I wonder if any one ever felt like me 
before. I must be very wicked. But God will have pity on me ; 
He knows all I have to bear.' 

In this way the time wore on till Tina heard the sound of voices 
along the passage, and became conscious that the volume of 
Tillotson had slipped on the floor. She had only just picked it up, 
and seen with alarm that the pages were bent, when Lady Assher, 
Beatrice, and Captain Wybrow entered, all with that brisk and 
cheerful air which a sermon is often observed to produce when 
it is quite finished. 

Lady Assher at once came and seated herself by Caterina. 
Her ladyship had been considerably refreshed by a doze, and was 
in great force for monologue. 

* Well, my dear Miss Sarti, and how do you feel now ? — a little 
better, I see. I thought you would be, sitting quietly here. These 
headaches, now, are all from weakness. You must not over-exert 
yourself, and you must take bitters. I used to have just the same 
sort of headaches when I was your age, and old Dr. Samson used 
to say to my mother, " Madam, what your daughter suffers from 
is weakness." He was such a curious old man, was Dr. Samson. 
But I wish you could have heard the sermon this morning. Such 
an excellent sermon ! It was about the ten virgins : five of them 
were foolish, and five were clever, you know ; and Mr. Gilfil 
explained all that. What a very pleasant young man he is ! so 
very quiet and agreeable, and such a good hand at whist, I wish 
we had him at Farleigh. Sir John would have liked him beyond 
anything ; he is so good-tempered at cards, and he was such a man 
for cards, was Sir John. And our rector is a very irritable man ; 
he can't bear to lose his money at cards. I don't think a clergy- 
man ought to mind about losing his money ; do you ? — do you now V 

* Oh pray. Lady Assher,' interposed Beatrice, in her usual tone 
of superiority, ' do not weary poor Caterina with such uninteresting 
(juestions. Your head seems very bad still, dear,' she continued, in 
a condoling tone, to Caterina ; * do take my vinaigrette, and keep 
it in your pocket. It will perhaps refresh you now and then.' 

* No, thank you,' answered Caterina ; * I will not take it away 
from you.' 

* Indeed, dear, I never use it ; you must take it,' Miss Assher 
persisted, holding it close to Tina's hand. Tina coloured deeply, 
pushed the vinaigrette away with some impatience, and said, 
* Thank you, I never use those things. I don't like vinaigrettes.' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 197 

Miss Assher returned the vinaigrette to her pocket in surprise 
and haughty silence, and Captain Wybrow, who had looked on in 
some alarm, said hastily, * See ! it is quite bright out of doors now. 
There is time for a walk before luncheon. Come, Beatrice, put 
on your hat and cloak, and let us have half an hour's walk on the 
gravel.' 

* Yes, do, my dear,' said Lady Assher, *and I will go and see if 
Sir Christopher is having his walk in the gallery.' 

As soon as the door had closed behind the two ladies. Captain 
Wybrow, standing with his back to the fire, turned towards 
Caterina, and said in a tone of earnest remonstrance, *My dear 
Caterina, let me beg of you to exercise more control over your 
feelings ; you are really rude to Miss Assher, and I can see that 
she is quite hurt. Consider how strange your behaviour must 
appear to her. She will wonder what can be the cause of it. 
Come, dear Tina,' he added, approaching her, and attempting to 
take her hand ; * for your own sake let me entreat you to receive 
her attentions politely. She really feels veiy kindly towards you, 
and I should be so happy to see you friends.' 

Caterina was already in such a state of diseased susceptibility 
that the most? innocent words from Captain Wybrow would have 
been irritating to her, as the whirr of the most delicate wihg will 
afflict a nervous patient. But this tone of benevolent remonstrance 
was intolerable. He had inflicted a great and unrepented injury 
on her, and now he assumed an air of benevolence towards her. 
This was a new outrage. His profession of goodwill was insolence. 

Caterina snatched away her hand and said indignantly, * Leave 
me to myself. Captain Wybrow ! I do not disturb you.' 

* Caterina, why will you be so violent — so unjust to me 1 It 
is for you that I feel anxious. Miss Assher has already noticed 
how strange your behaviour is both to her and me, and it puts me 
into a very difficult position. What can I say to her ? ' 

* Say 1 ' Caterina burst forth with intense bitterness, rising, and 
moving towards the door ; * say that I am a poor silly girl, and 
have fallen in love with you, and am jealous of her ; but that you 
have never had any feeling but pity for me — you have never 
behaved with anything more than friendliness to me. Tell her 
that, and she will think all the better of you.' 

Tina uttered this as the bitterest sarcasm her ideas would 
furnish her with, not having the faintest suspicion that the 
sarcasm derived any of its bitterness from truth. Underneath all 
her sense of wrong, which was rather instinctive than reflective — 
underneath all the madness of her jealousy, and her ungovernable 
impulses of resentment and vindictiveness— underneath all this 



198 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

scorching passion there were still left some hidden crystal dews of 
trust, of self-reproof, of belief that Anthony was trying to do the 
right. Love had not all gone to feed the fires of hatred. Tina 
still trusted that Anthony felt more for her than he seemed to feel ; 
she was still far from suspecting him of a wrong which a woman 
resents even more than inconstancy. And she threw out this 
taunt simply as the most intense expression she could find for the 
anger of the moment. 

As she stood nearly in the middle of the room, her little body 
trembling under the shock of passions too strong for it, her very 
lips pale, and her eyes gleaming, the door opened, and Miss Assher 
appeared, tall, blooming, and splendid, in her walking costume. 
As she entered, her face wore the smile appropriate to the exits 
and entrances of a young lady who feels that her presence is an 
interesting fact ; but the next moment she looked at Caterina 
with grave surprise, and then threw a glance of angry suspicion 
at Captain Wybrow, who wore an air of weariness and vexation. 

* Perhaps you are too much engaged to walk out, Captain 
Wybrow 1 I will go alone.' 

* No, no, I am coming,' he answered, hurrying towards her, and 
leading her out of the room ; leaving poor Caterina to feel all the 
reaction of shame and self-reproach after her outburst of passion. 



CHAPTER XII 

' Pray, what is likely to be the next scene in the drama between 
you and Miss Sarti 1 ' said Miss Assher to Captain Wybrow as 
soon as they were out on the gravel. * It would be agreeable to 
have some idea of what is coming.' 

Captain Wybrow was silent. He felt out of humour, wearied, 
annoyed. There come moments when one almost determines 
never again to oppose anything but dead silence to an angry 
woman. *Now then, confound it,' he said to himself, 'I'm 
going to be battered on the other flank.' He looked resolutely at 
the horizon, with something more like a frown on his face than 
Beatrice had ever seen there. 

After a pause of two or three minutes, she continued in a still 
haughtier tone, ' I suppose you are aware. Captain Wybrow, that 
I expect an explanation of what I have just seen.' 

' I have no explanation, my dear Beatrice,' he answered at last, 
making a strong effort over himself, ' except what I have already 
given you. I hoped you would never recur to the subject.' 

* Your explanation, however, is very far from satisfactory. I 
can only say that the airs Miss Sarti thinks herself entitled to put 
on towards you are quite incompatible with your position as 
regards me. And her behaviour to me is most insulting. I shall 
certainly not stay in the house under such circumstances, and 
mamma must state the reasons to Sir Christopher.' 

* Beatrice,' said Captain Wybrow, his irritation giving way to 
alarm, * I beseech you to be patient, and exercise your good feelings 
in this affair. It is very painful, I know, but I am sure you 
would be grieved to injure poor Caterina — to bring down my 
uncle's anger upon her. Consider what a poor little dependent 
thing she is.' 

* It is very adroit of you to make these evasions, but do not 
suppose that they deceive me. Miss Sarti would never dare to 
behave to you as she does, if you had not flirted with her, or made 
love to her. I suppose she considers your engagement to me a 

199 



200 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

breach of faith to her. I am much obliged to you, certainly, for 
making me Miss Sarti's rival. You have told me a falsehood, 
Captain Wybrow.' 

* Beatrice, I solemnly declare to you that Caterina is nothing 
more to me than a girl I naturally feel kindly to — ^as a favourite 
of my uncle's, and a nice little thing enough. I should be glad 
to see her married to Gilfil to-morrow ; that's a good proof that 
I'm not in love with her, I should think. As to the past, I may 
have shown her little attentions, which she had exaggerated and 
misinterpreted. What man is not liable to that sort of thing 1 ' 

* But what can she found her behaviour on ? What had she 
been saying to you this morning to make her tremble and turn 
pale in that way ? ' 

* Oh, I don't know. I just said something about her behaving 
peevishly. With that Italian blood of hers, there's no knowing 
how she may take what one says. She's a fierce little thing, 
though she seems so quiet generally.' 

*But she ought to be made to know how unbecoming and 
indelicate her conduct is. For my part, I wonder Lady Cheverel 
has not noticed her short answers and the airs she puts on.' 

* Let me beg of you, Beatrice, not to hint anything of the kind 
to Lady Cheverel. You must have observed how strict my aunt 
is. It never enters her head that a girl can be in love with a man 
who has not made her an offer.' 

* Well, I shall let Miss Sarti know myself that I have observed 
her conduct. It will be only a charity to her.' 

* Nay, dear, that will be doing nothing but harm. Caterina's 
temper is peculiar. The best thing you can do will be to leave 
her to herself as much as possible. It will ajljuceftf-trff: I've no 
doubt she'll be married to Gilfil before long. Girls' fancies are 
easily diverted from one object to another. By Jove, what a rate 
my heart is galloping at ! These confounded palpitations get 
worse instead of better.' 

Thus ended the conversation, so far as it concerned Caterina, 
not without leaving a distinct resolution in Captain Wybrow's 
mind — a resolution carried into effect the next day, when he was 
in the library with Sir Christopher for the purpose of discussing 
some arrangements about the approaching marriage. 

*By the by,' he said carelessly, when the business came to a 
pause, and he was sauntering round the room with his hands in 
his coat-pockets, surveying the backs of the books that lined the 
walls, * when is the wedding between Gilfil and Caterina to come 
off, sir ? I've a fellow-feeling for a poor devil so many fathoms 
deep in love as Maynard. Why shouldn't their marriage happen 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 201 

as soon as ours? I suppose he has come to an understanding 
with Tina r 

* Why/ said Sir Christopher, * I did think of letting the thing 
be until old Crichley died ; he can't hold out very long, poor 
fellow ; and then Maynard might have entered into matrimony 
ajid the Kectory both at once. But, after all, that really is no 
good reason for waiting. There is no need for them to leave the 
Manor when they are married. The little monkey is quite old 
enough. It would be pretty to see her a matron, with a baby 
about the size of a kitten in her arms.' 

' I think that system of waiting is always bad. And if I can 
further any settlement you would like to make on Caterina, I 
shall be delighted to carry out your wishes.' 

* My dear boy, that's very good of you ; but Maynard will have 
enough ; and from what I know of him — and I know him well — 
I think he would rather provide for Caterina himself. However, 
now you have put this matter into my head, I begin to blame 
myself for not having thought of it before. I've been so wrapt up 
in Beatrice and you, you rascal, that I had really forgotten poor 
Maynard. And he's older than you — it's high time he was settled 
in life as a family man.' 

Sir Christopher paused, took snuff in a meditative manner, and 
presently said, more to himself than to Anthony, who was humming 
a tune at the far end of the room, ' Yes, yes. It will be a capital 
plan to finish off all our family business at once.' 

Riding out with Miss Assher the same morning. Captain 
Wybrow mentioned to her incidentally, that Sir Christopher was 
anxious to bring about the wedding between Gilfil and Caterina as 
soon as possible, and that he, for his part, should do all he could 
to further the affair. It would be the best thing in the world for 
Tina, in whose welfare he was really interested. 

With Sir Christopher there was never any long interval between 
purpose and execution. He made up his mind promptly, and he 
acted promptly. On rising from luncheon, he said to Mr. Gilfil, 
* Come with me into the library, Maynard. I want to have a 
word with you.' 

* Maynard, my boy,' he began, as soon as they were seated, 
tapping his snuff-box, and looking radiant at the idea of the un- 
expected pleasure he was about to give, ' why shouldn't we have 
two happy couples instead of one, before the autumn is over, eh ? ' 

* Eh ? ' he repeated, after a moment's pause, lengthening out 
the monosyllable, taking a slow pinch, and looking up at Maynard 
with a sly smile. 

* I'm not quite sure that I understand you, sir,' answered Mr. 



202 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Gilfil, who felt annoyed at the consciousness that he was turning 
pale. 

' Not understand me, you rogue ? You know very well whose 
happiness lies nearest to my heart after Anthony's. You know 
you let me into your secrets long ago, so there's no confession to 
make. Tina's quite old enough to be a grave little wife now ; and 
though the Rectory's not ready for you, that's no matter. My 
lady and I shall feel all the more comfortable for having you with 
us. We should miss our little singing-bird if we lost her all at 
once.' 

Mr. Gilfil felt himself in a painfully diflBcult position. He 
dreaded that Sir Christopher should surmise or discover the true 
state of Caterina's feelings, and yet he was obliged to make those 
feelings the ground of his reply. 

* My dear sir,' he at last said with some effort, * you will not 
suppose that I am not alive to your goodness — that I am not 
grateful for your fatherly interest in my happiness ; but I fear 
that Caterina's feelings towards me are not such as to warrant 
the hope that she would accept a proposal of marriage from me.' 

* Have you ever asked her 1 ' 

* No, sir. But we often know these things too well without 
asking.' 

* Pooh, pooh ! the little monkey must love you. Why, you 
were her first playfellow ; and I remember she used to cry if you 
cut your finger. Besides, she has always silently admitted that 
you were her lover. You know I have always spoken of you to 
her in that light. I took it for granted you had settled the 
business between yourselves ; so did Anthony. Anthony thinks 
she's in love with you, and he has young eyes, which are apt 
enough to see clearly in these matters. He was talking to me 
about it this morning, and pleased me very much by the friendly 
attitude he showed in you and Tina.' 

The blood — more than was wanted — rushed back to Mr. Gilfil's 
face; he set his teeth and clenched his hands in the effort to 
repress a burst of indignation. Sir Christopher noticed the flush, 
but thought it indicated the fluctuation of hope and fear about 
Caterina. He went on — 

* You're too modest by half, Maynard. A fellow who can take 
a five-barred gate as you can, ought not to be so faint-hearted. 
If you can't speak to her yourself, leave me to talk to her.' 

* Sir Christopher,' said poor Maynard earnestly, * I shall really 
feel it the greatest kindness you can possibly show me not to 
mention this subject to Caterina at present. I think such a 
proposal, made prematurely, might only alienate her from me.' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 203 

Sir Christopher was getting a little displeased at this con- 
tradiction. His tone became a little sharper as he said, * Have 
you any grounds to state for this opinion, beyond your general 
notion that Tina is not enough in love with you 1 ' 

* I can state none beyond my own very strong impression that 
she does not love me well enough to marry me.' 

*Then I think that ground is worth nothing at all. I am 
tolerably correct in my judgment of people ; and if I am not very 
much deceived in Tina, she looks forward to nothing else but to 
your being her husband. Leave me to manage the matter as I 
think best. You may rely on me that I shall do no harm to 
your cause, Maynard.' 

Mr. Gilfil, afraid to say more, yet wretched in the prospect of 
what might result from Sir Christopher's determination, quitted 
the library in a state of mingled indignation against Captain 
Wybrow, and distress for himself and Caterina. What would 
she think of him? She might suppose that he had instigated 
or sanctioned Sir Christopher's proceeding. He should perhaps 
not have an opportunity of speaking to her on the subject in time ; 
he would write her a note, and carry it up to her room after the 
dressing-bell had rung. No ; that would agitate her, and unfit 
her for appearing at dinner, and passing the evening calmly. He 
would defer it till bed-time. After prayers, he contrived to lead 
her back to the drawing-room, and to put a letter in her hand. 
She carried it up to her own room, wondering, and there read — 

* Dear Caterina — Do not suspect for a moment that anything 
Sir Christopher may say to you about our marriage has been 
prompted by me. I have done all I dare do to dissuade him from 
urging the subject, and have only been prevented from speaking 
more strongly by the dread of provoking questions which I could 
not answer without causing you fresh misery. I write this, both 
to prepare you for anything Sir Christopher may say, and to 
assure you — but I hope you already believe it — that your feelings 
are sacred to me. I would rather part with the dearest hope of 
my life than be the means of adding to your trouble. 

* It is Captain Wybrow who has prompted Sir Christopher to 
take up the subject at this moment. I tell you this, to save you 
from hearing it suddenly when you are with Sir Christopher. 
You see now what sort of stuff that dastard's heart is made of. 
Trust in me always, dearest Caterina, as — whatever may come — 
your faithful friend and brother, Maynard Gilfil.' 

Caterina was at first too terribly stung by the words about 
Captain Wybrow to think of the difficulty which threatened her 



204 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

— to think either of what Sir Christopher would say to her, or of 
what she could say in reply. Bitter sense of injury, fierce resent- 
ment, left no room for fear. With the poisoned garment upon 
him, the victim writhes under the torture — he has no thought of 
the coming death. 

Anthony could do this ! — Of this there could be no explanation 
but the coolest contempt for her feelings, the basest sacrifice of 
all the consideration and tenderness he owed her to the ease of 
his position with Miss Assher. No. It was worse than that : 
it was deliberate, gratuitous cruelty. He wanted to show her 
how he despised her ; he wanted to make her feel her folly in 
having ever believed that he loved her. 

The last crystal drops of trust and tenderness, she thought, 
were dried up ; all was parched, fieiy hatred. Now she need no 
longer check her resentment by the fear of doing him an injustice ; 
he had trifled with her, as Maynard had said ; he had been reck- 
less of her ; and now he was base and cruel. She had cause 
enough for her bitterness and anger ; they were not so wicked as 
they had seemed to her. 

As these thoughts were hurrying after each other like so many 
sharp throbs of fevered pain, she shed no tear. She paced rest- 
lessly to and fro, as her habit was — her hands clenched, her eyes 
gleaming fiercely and wandering uneasily, as if in search of some- 
thing on which she might throw herself like a tigress. 

*If I could speak to him,' she whispered, *and tell him I hate 
him, I despise him, I loathe him ! ' 

Suddenly, as if a new thought had struck her, she drew a key 
from her pocket, and unlocking an inlaid desk where she stored 
up her keepsakes, took from it a small miniatufer- It was in a 
very slight gold frame, with a ring to it, as TTintended to be worn 
on a chain ; and under the glass at the back were two locks of 
hair, one dark and the other auburn, arranged in a fantastic 
knot. It was Anthony's secret present to her a year ago — a copy 
he had had made specially for her. For the last month she had 
not taken it from its hiding-place : there was no need to heighten 
the vividness of the past. But now she clutched it fiercely, and 
dashed it across the room against the bare hearthstone. 

Will she crush it under her feet, and grind it under her high- 
heeled shoe, till every trace of those false cruel features is gone ? 

Ah, no ! She rushed across the room ; but when she saw the 
little treasure she had cherished so fondly, so often smothered 
with kisses, so often laid under her pillow, and remembered with 
the first return of consciousness in the morning — when she saw 
this one visible relic of the too happy pasf lying with the glass 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 205 

shivered, the hair fallen out, the thin ivory cracked, there was a 
revulsion of the overstrained feeling : relenting came, and she 
burst into tears. 

Look at her stooping down to gather up her treasure, searching 
for the hair and replacing it, and then mournfully examining the 
crack that disfigures the once-loved image. There is no glass 
now to guard either the hair or the portrait ; but see how care- 
fully she wraps delicate paper round it, and locks it up again in 
its old place. Poor child ! God send the relenting may always 
come before the worst irrevocable deed ! 

This action had quieted her, and she sat down to read 
Maynard's letter again. She read it two or three times without 
seeming to take in the sense; her apprehension was dulled by 
the passion of the last hour, and she found it diflBcult to call 
up the ideas suggested by the words. At last she began to 
have a distinct conception of the impending interview with Sir 
Christopher. The idea of displeasing the Baronet, of whom 
every one at the Manor stood in awe, frightened her so much 
that she thought it would be impossible to resist his wish. He 
believed that she loved Maynard ; he had always spoken as if he 
were quite sure of it. How could she tell him he was deceived — 
and what if he were to ask her whether she loved anybody else ? 
To have Sir Christopher looking angrily at her was more than 
she could bear, even in imagination. He had always been so 
good to her ! Then she began to think of the pain she might 
give him, and the more selfish distress of fear gave way to the 
distress of affection. Unselfish tears began to flow, and sorrow- 
ful gratitude to Sir Christopher helped to awaken her sensibility 
to Mr. Gilfil's tenderness and generosity. 

* Dear, good Maynard ! — what a poor return I make him ! If 
I could but have loved him instead — but I can never love or care 
for anything again. My heart is broken/ 



CHAPTER XIII 

The next morning the dreaded moment came. Caterina, stupefied 
by the suffering of the previous night, with that dull mental 
aching which follows on acute anguish, was in Lady ChevereFs 
sitting-room, copying out some charity lists, when her ladyship 
came in, and said — 

*Tina, Sir Christopher wants you ; go down into the library.' 
She went down trembling. As soon as she entered, Sir 
Christopher, who was seated near his writing-table, said, * Now, 
little monkey, come and sit down by me ; I have something to 
tell you.' 

Caterina took a footstool, and seated herself on it at the 
Baronet's feet. It was her habit to sit on these low stools, and 
in this way she could hide her face better. She put her little 
arm round his leg, and leaned her cheek against his knee. 

* Why, you seem out of spirits this morning, Tina. What's the 
matter, eh?' 

* Nothing, Padroncello ; only my head is bad.' 

* Poor monkey ! Well, now, wouldn't it do the head good if I 
were to promise you a good husband, and smart little wedding- 
gowns, and by and by a house of your own, where you would 
be a little mistress, and Padroncello would come and see you 
sometimes ? ' 

* Oh no, no ! I shouldn't like ever to be married. Let me 
always stay with you ! ' 

*Pooh, pooh, little simpleton. I shall get old and tiresome, 
and there will be Anthony's children putting your nose out of 
joint. You will want some one to love you best of all, and you 
must have children of your own to love. I can't have you 
withering away into an old maid. I hate old maids : they make 
me dismal to look at them. I never see Sharp without shuddering. 
My little black-eyed monkey was never meant for anything so 
ugly. And there's Maynard Gilfil, the best man in the county, 
worth his weight in gold, heavy as he is ; he loves you better 

206 




' You seem out of spirits this mornings Tina. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 209 

than his eyes. And you love him too, you silly monkey, whatever 
you may say about not being married.' 

* No, no, dear Padroncello, do not say so ; I could not marry 
him.' 

' Why not, you foolish child ? You don't know your own 
mind. Why, it is plain to everybody that you love him. My 
lady has all along said she was sure you loved him — she has 
seen what little princess airs you put on to him ; and Anthony 
too, he thinks you are in love with Gilfil. Come, what has 
made you take it into your head that you wouldn't like to marry 
him?' 

Caterina was now sobbing too deeply to make any answer. 
Sir Christopher patted her on the back and said, * Come, come ; 
why, Tina, you are not well this morning. Go and rest, little 
one. You will see things in quite another light when you are 
well. Think over what I have said, and remember there is 
nothing, after Anthony's marriage, that I have set my heart on so 
much as seeing you and Maynard settled for life. I must have 
no whims and follies — no nonsense.' This was said with a slight 
severity ; but he presently added, in a soothing tone, * There, 
there, stop crying, and be a good little monkey. Go and lie 
down and get to sleep.' 

Caterina slipped from the stool on to her knees, took the old 
Baronet's hand, covered it with tears and kisses, and then ran out 
of the room. 

Before the evening, Captain Wybrow had heard from his uncle 
the result of the interview with Caterina. He thought, *Tf I 
could have a long quiet talk with her, I could perhaps persuade 
her to look more reasonably at things. But there's no speaking 
to her in the house without being interrupted, and I can hardly 
see her anywhere else without Beatrice's finding it out.' At last 
he determined to make it a matter of confidence with Miss Assher 
— to tell her that he wished to talk to Caterina quietly for the 
sake of bringing her to a calmer state of mind, and persuade her 
to listen to Gilfil's affection. He was very much pleased with 
this judicious and candid plan, and in the course of the evening 
he had arranged with himself the time and place of meeting, and 
had communicated his purpose to Miss Assher, who gave her 
entire approval. Anthony, she thought, would do well to speak 
plainly and seriously to Miss Sarti. He was really very patient 
and kind to her, considering how she behaved. 

Tina had kept her room all that day, and had been carefully 
tended as an invalid. Sir Christopher having told her ladyship 
how matters stood. This tendance was so irksome to Caterina, 

p 



210 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

she felt so uneasy under attentions and kindness that were based 
on a misconception, that she exerted herself to appear at breakfast 
the next morning, and declared herself well, though head and heart 
were throbbing. To be confined in her own room was intolerable ; 
it was wretched enough to be looked at and spoken to, but it was 
more wretched to be left alone. She was frightened at her own 
sensations : she was frightened at the imperious vividness with 
which pictures of the past and future thrust themselves on her 
imagination. And there was another feeling, too, which made 
her want to be downstairs and moving about. Perhaps she 
might have an opportunity of speaking to Captain Wybrow alone 
— of speaking those words of hatred and scorn that burned on 
her tongue. That opportunity offered itself in a very unexpected 
manner. 

Lady Cheverel having sent Caterina out of the drawing-room 
to fetch some patterns of embroidery from her sitting-room, 
Captain Wybrow presently walked out after her, and met her as 
she was returning downstairs. 

* Caterina,' he said, laying his hand on her arm as she 
was hurrying on without looking at him, *will you meet me 
in the Rookery at twelve o'clock? I must speak to you, and 
we shall be in privacy there. I cannot speak to- you in the 
house.' 

To his surprise, there was a flash of pleasure across her face ; 
she answered shortly and decidedly, ' Yes,' then snatched her arm 
away from him, and passed downstairs. 

Miss Assher was this morning busy winding silks, being bent 
on emulating Lady Cheverel's embroidery, and Lady Assher chose 
the passive amusement of holding the skeins. Lady Cheverel 
had now all her working apparatus about her, and Caterina, 
thinking she was not wanted, went away and sat down to the 
harpsichord in the sitting-room. It seemed as if playing massive 
chords — bringing out volumes of sound, would be the easiest way 
of passing the long feverish moments before twelve o'clock. 
Ha^idel's Messiah stood open on the desk, at the chorus, 'All 
we like sheep/ and Caterina threw herself at once into the 
impetuous intricacies of that magnificent fugue. In her happiest 
moments she could never have played it so well ; for now all the 
passion that made her misery was hurled by a convulsive effort 
into her music, just as pain gives new force to the clutch of the 
sinking wrestler, and as terror gives far-sounding intensity to the 
shriek of the feeble. 

But at half-past eleven she was intermpted by Lady Cheverel, 
who said, * Tina, go down, will you, and hold Miss Assher's silks 




The skein of silk. 



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MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 211 

for her. Lady Assher and 1 have decided on having our drive 
before luncheon.' 

Caterina went down, wondering how she should escape from 
the drawing-room in time to be in the Rookery at twelve. 
Nothing should prevent her from going ; nothing should rob her 
of this one precious moment — perhaps the last — when she could 
speak out the thoughts that were' in her. After that, she would 
be passive ; she would bear anything. 

But she had scarcely sat down with a skein of yellow silk on 
her hands, when Miss Assher said, graciously — 

*I know you have an engagement with Captain Wybrow 
this morning. You must not let me detain you beyond the 
time.' 

' So he has been talking to her about me,' thought Caterina. 
Her hands began to tremble as she held the skein. 

Miss Assher continued, in the same gracious tone ; * It is 
tedious work holding these skeins. I am sure I am very much 
obliged to you.' 

*No, you are not obliged to me,' said Caterina, completely 
mastered by her irritation; *I have only done it because Lady 
Cheverel told me.' 

The moment was come when Miss Assher could no longer 
suppress her long -latent desire to *let Miss Sarti know the 
impropriety of her conduct.' With the malicious anger that 
assumes the tone of compassion, she said — 

* Miss Sarti, I am really sorry for you, that you are not able to 
control yourself better. This giving way to unwarrantable feelings 
is lowering you — it is indeed.' 

*What unwarrantable feelings?' said Caterina, letting her 
hands fall, and fixing her great dark eyes steadily on Miss 
Assher. 

*It is quite unnecessary for me to say more. You must be 
conscious what I mean. Only summon a sense of duty to your 
aid. You are paining Captain Wybrow extremely by your want 
of self-control.' 

* Did he tell you I pained him 1 ' 

* Yes, indeed, he did. He is very much hurt that you should 
behave to me as if you had a sort of enmity towards me. He 
would like you to make a friend of me. I assure you we both 
feel very kindly towards you, and are sorry you should cherish 
such feelings.' 

* He is very good,' said Caterina, bitterly. * What feelings did 
he say"! cherished T 

This bitter tone increased Miss Assher's irritation. There was 



212 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

still a lurking suspicion in her mind, though she would not admit 
it to herself, that Captain Wybrow had told her a falsehood about 
his conduct and feelings towards Caterina. It was this suspicion, 
more even than the anger of the moment, which urged her to say- 
something that would test the truth of his statement. That she 
would be humiliating Caterina at the same time was only an 
additional temptation. 

* These are things I do not like to talk of, Miss Sarti. I 
cannot even understand how a woman can indulge a passion for a 
man who has never given her the least ground for it, as Captain 
Wybrow assures me is the case.' 

* He told you that, did he ? ' said Caterina, in clear low tones, 
her lips turning white as she rose from her chair. 

* Yes, indeed, he did. He was bound to tell it me after your 
strange behaviour.' 

Caterina said nothing, but turned round suddenly and left the 
room. 

See how she rushes noiselessly, like a pale meteor, along the 
passages and up the gallery stairs ! Those gleaming eyes, those 
bloodless lips, that swift silent tread, make her look like the 
incarnation of a fierce purpose, rather than a woman. The mid- 
day sun is shining on the armour in the gallery, making mimic 
suns on bossed sword-hilts and the angles of polished breastplates. 
Yes, there are sharp weapons in the gallery. There is a dagger 
in that cabinet ; she knows it well. And as a dragon-fly wheels 
in its flight to alight for an instant on a leaf, she darts to the 
cabinet, takes out the dagger, and thrusts it into her pocket. In 
three minutes more she is out, in hat and cloak, on the gravel- 
walk, hurrying along towards the thick shades of the distant 
Rookery. She threads the windings of the plantations, not 
feeling the golden leaves that rain upon her, not feeling the earth 
beneath her feet. Her hand is in her pocket, clenching the 
handle of the dagger, which she holds half out of its sheath. 

She has reached the Rookery, and is under the gloom of the 
interlacing boughs. Her heart throbs as if it would burst her 
bosom — as if every next leap must be its last. Wait, wait, 
heart ! — till she has done this one deed. He will be there — he 
will be before her in a moment. He will come towards her with 
that false smile, thinking she does not know his baseness — she 
will plunge that dagger into his heart. 

Poor child ! poor child ! she who used to cry to have the fish 
put back into the water— who never willingly killed the smallest 
living thing — dreams now, in the madness of her passion, that 
she can kill the man whose very voice unnerves her. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 213 

But what is that lying among the dank leaves on the path 
three yards before her ? 

Good God ! it is he — lying motionless — his hat fallen off. 
He is ill, then — he has fainted. Her hand lets go the dagger, 
and she rushes towards him. His eyes are fixed ; he does not see 
her. She sinks down on her knees, takes the dear head in her 
arms, and kisses the cold forehead. 

* Anthony, Anthony ! speak to me — it is Tina — speak to me ! 
O God, he is dead ! ' 



CHAPTER XIV 

* Yes, Maynard/ said Sir Christopher, chatting with Mr. Gilfil in 
the library, 'it really is a remarkable thing that I never in my 
life laid a plan, and failed to carry it out. I lay my plans well, 
and I never swerve from them — that's it. A strong will is the 
only magic. And next to striking out one's plans, the pleasantest 
thing in the world is to see them well accomplished. This year, 
now, will be the hai)pie8t of my life, all but the year '53, when I 
came into possession of the Manor, and married Henrietta. The 
last touch is given to the old house ; Anthony's marriage — tie 
thing I had nearest my heart — is settled to my entire satisfaction ; 
and by and by you will be buying a little wedding-ring for Tina's 
finger. Don't shake your head in that forlorn way ; — when I 
make prophecies they generally come to pass. But there's a 
quarter after twelve striking. I must be riding to the High Ash 
to meet Markham about felling some timber. My old oaks will 
have to groan for this wedding, but ' 

The door burst open, and Caterina, ghastly and panting, her 
eyes distended with terror, rushed in, threw her arms round 
Sir Christopher's neck, and, gasping out — * Anthony . . . the 
Rookery . . . dead ... in the Rookery,' fell fainting on the 
floor. 

In a moment Sir Christopher was out of the room, and Mr. 
Gilfil was bending to raise Caterina in his arms. As he lifted her 
from the ground he felt something hard and heavy in her pocket. 
What could it be 1 The weight of it would be enough to hurt her 
as she lay. He carried x4ier to tbe sofa, put his hand in her 
pocket, and drew forth the dagger./ 

Maynard shuddered. ^ Did sha'mean to kill herself, then, or 
... or ... a horrible suspicion forced itself upon him. 

* Dead — in the Rookery.' He hated himself for the thought that 
prompted him to draw the dagger from its sheath. No ! there 
was no trace of blood, and he was ready to kiss the good steel for 
its innocence. He thrust the weapon into his own pocket ; he 

214 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 215 

would restore it as soon as possible to its well-known place in the 
gallery. Yet, why had Caterina taken this dagger ? What was 
it that had happened in the Rookery ? Was it only a delirious 
vision of hers ? 

He was afraid to ring — afraid to summon any one to 
Caterina's assistance. What might she not say when she awoke 
from this fainting-fit 1 She might be raving. He could not leave 
her, and yet he felt as if he were guilty for not following Sir 
Christopher to see what was the truth. It took but a moment to 
think and feel all this, but that moment seemed such a long agony 
to him that he began to reproach himself for letting it pass 
without seeking some means of reviving Caterina. Happily the 
decanter of water on Sir Christopher's table was untouched. He 
would at least try the effect of throwing that water over her. 
She might revive without his needing to call any one else. 

Meanwhile Sir Christopher was hurrying at his utmost speed 
towards the Rookery ; his face, so lately bright and confident, 
now agitated by a vague dread. The deep alarmed bark of 
Rupert, who ran by his side, had struck the ear of Mr. Bates, 
then on his way homeward, as something unwonted, and, hastening 
in the direction of the sound, he met the Baronet just as he was 
approaching the entrance of the Rookeiy. Sir Christopher's look 
was enough. Mr. Bates said nothing, but hurried along by his 
side, while Rupert dashed forward among the dead leaves with 
his nose to the ground. They had scarcely lost sight of him a 
minute when a change in the tone of his bark told them that he 
had found something, and in another instant he was leaping back 
over one of the large planted mounds. They turned aside to 
ascend the mound, Rupert leading them ; the tumultuous cawing 
of the rooks, the very rustling of the leaves, as their feet plunged 
among them, falling like an evil omen on the Baronet's ear. 

They had reached the summit of the mound, and had begun to 
descend. Sir Christopher saw something purple down on the 
path below among the yellow leaves. Rupert was already beside 
it, but Sir Christopher could not move faster. A tremor had 
taken hold of the firm limbs. Rupert came back and licked 
the trembling hand, as if to say * Courage ! ' and then was down 
again snufting the body. Yes, it was a body . . . Anthony's 
body. There was the -^hite hand with its diamond ring clutching 
the dark leaves. His eyes were half open, but did not heed the 
gleam of sunlight that darted itself directly on them from between 
the boughs. 

Still he might only have fainted ; it might only be a fit. Sir 
Christopher knelt down, unfastened the cravat, unfastened the 



216 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

waistcoat, and laid his hand on the heart. It might be syncope ; 
it might not — it could not be death. No ! that thought must be 
kept far off. 

* Go, Bates, get help ; we'll carry him to your cottage. Send 
some one to the house to tell Mr. Gilfil and Warren. Bid them 
send off for Doctor Hart, and break it to my lady and Miss Assher 
that Anthony is ill.' 

Mr. Bates hastened away, and the Baronet was left alone 
kneeling beside the body. The young and supple limbs, the 
rounded cheeks, the delicate ripe lips, the smooth white hands, 
were lying cold and rigid ; and the aged face was bending over 
them in silent anguish ; the aged deep -veined hands were seeking 
with tremulous inquiring touches for some symptom that life was 
not irrevocably gone. 

Rupert was there too, waiting and watching ; licking first the 
dead and then the living hands ; then running off on Mr. Bates's 
track as if he would follow and hasten his return, but in a moment 
turning back again, unable to quit the scene of his master's 



CHAPTER XV 

It is a wonderful moment, the first time we stand by one who 
has fainted, and witness the fresh birth of consciousness spreading 
itself over the blank features, like the rising sunlight on the alpine 
summits that lay ghastly and dead under the leaden twilight. A 
slight shudder, and the frost-bound eyes recover their liquid light ; 
for an instant they show the inward semi-consciousness of an 
infant's ; then, with a little start, they open wider and begin to 
look\ the present is visible, but only as a strange writing, and 
the interpreter Memory is not yet there. 

Mr. Grilfil felt a trembling joy as this change passed over 
Caterina's face. He bent over her, rubbing her chill hands, and 
looking at her with tender pity as her dark eyes opened on him 
wonderingly. He thought there might be some wine in the 
dining-room close by. He left the room, and Caterina's eyes 
turned towards the window — towards Sir Christopher's chair. 
There was the link at which the chain of consciousness had snapped, 
and the events of the morning were beginning to recur dimly like 
a half-remembered dream, when Maynard returned with some 
wine. He raised her, and she drank it ; but still she was silent, 
seeming lost in the attempt to recover the past, when the door 
opened, and Mr. Warren appeared with looks that announced 
terrible tidings. Mr. Gilfil, dreading lest he should tell them in 
Caterina's presence, hurried towards him with his finger on his 
lips, and drew him away into the dining-room on the opposite side 
of the passage. 

Caterina, revived by the stimulant, was now recovering the 
full consciousness of the scene in the Rookery. Anthony was 
lying there dead ; she had left him to tell Sir Christopher ; she 
must go and see what they were doing with him ; perhaps he was 
not really dead — only in a trance ; people did fall into trances 
sometimes. While Mr. Gilfil was telling Warren how it would be 
best to break the news to Lady Cheverel and Miss Assher, anxious 
himself to return to Caterina, the poor child had made her way 

217 



218 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

feebly to the great entrance-door, which stood open. Her strength 
increased as she moved and breathed the fresh air, and with every 
increase of strength came increased vividness of emotion, increased 
yearning to be where her thought was — in the Rookery with 
Anthony. She walked more and more swiftly, and at last, 
gathering the artificial strength of passionate excitement, began 
to run. 

But now she heard the tread of heavy steps, and under the 
yellow shade near the wooden bridge she saw men slowly carrying 
something. Soon she was face to face with them. Anthony was 
no longer in the Rookery : they were carrying him stretched on a 
door, and there behind him was Sir Christopher, with the firmly 
set mouth, the deathly paleness, and the concentrated expression 
of suffering in the eye, which mark the suppressed grief of the 
strong man. The sight of this face, on which Caterina had never 
before beheld the signs of anguish, caused a rush of new feeling 
which for the moment submerged all the rest. She went gently 
up to him, put her little hand in his, and walked in silence by his 
side. Sir Christopher could not tell her to leave him, and so she 
went on with that sad procession to Mr. Bates's cottage in the 
Mosslands, and sat there in silence, waiting and watching to know 
if Anthony were really dead. 

She had not yet missed the dagger from her pocket ; she had 
not yet even thought of it. At the sight of Anthony lying dead, 
her nature had rebounded from its new bias of resentment and 
hatred to the old sweet habit of love. The earliest and the longest 
has still the mastery over us ; and the only past that linked itself 
with those glazed unconscious eyes, was the past when they 
beamed on her with tenderness. She forgot the interval of wrong 
and jealousy and hatred — all his cruelty, and all her thoughts of 
revenge — as the exile forgets the stormy passage that lay between 
home and happiness and the dreary land in which he finds himself 
desolate. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Before night all hope was gone. Dr. Hart had said it was 
death ; Anthony's body had been carried to the house, and every 
one there knew the calamity that had fallen on them. 

Cateriua had been questioned by Dr. Hart, and had answered 
briefly that she found Anthony lying in the Rookery. That she 
should have been walking there just at that time was not a coin- 
cidence to raise conjectures in any one besides Mr. Gilfil. Except 
in answering this question, she had not broken her silence. She 
sat mute in a comer of the gardener's kitchen, shaking her head 
when Maynard entreated her to return with him, and apparently 
unable to think of anything but the possibility that Anthony 
might revive, until she saw them carrying away the body to the 
house. Then she followed by Sir Christopher's side again, so 
quietly that even Dr. Hart did not object to her presence. 

It was decided to lay the body in the library until after the 
coroner's inquest to-morrow ; and, when Caterina saw the door 
finally closed, she turned up the gallery stairs on her way to her 
own room, the place where she felt at home with her sorrows. It 
was the first time she had been in the gallery since that terrible 
moment in the morning, and now the spot and the objects around 
began to reawaken her stuff'-stunned memory. The armour was 
no longer glittering in the sunshine, but there it hung dead and 
sombre above the cabinet from which she had taken the dagger. 
Yes ! now it all came back to her — all the wretchedness and all 
the sin. But where was the dagger now 1 She felt in her pocket ; 
it was not there. Could it have been her fancy — all that about 
the dagger ? She looked in the cabinet ; it was not there. Alas ! 
no ; it could not have been her fancy, and she was guilty of that 
wickedness. But where could the dagger be now 1 Could it have 
fallen out of her pocket 1 She heard steps ascending the stairs, 
and hurried on to her room, where, kneeling by the bed, and 
burying her face to shut out the hateful light, she tried to recall 
every feeling and incident of the morning. 

It all came back ; everything Anthony had done, and everything 
219 



220 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

she had felt for the last month — for many months — ever since 
that June evening when he had last spoken to her in the gallery. 
She looked back on her storms of passion, her jealousy and 
hatred of Miss Assher, her thoughts of revenge on Anthony. Oh 
how wicked she had been ! It was she who had been sinning ; it 
was she who had driven him to do and say those things that had 
made her so angry. And if he had wronged her, what had she 
been on the verge of doing to him ? She was too wicked ever to 
be pardone<i. She would like to confess how wicked she had been, 
that they might punish her ; she would like to humble herself 
to the dust before every one — before Miss Assher even. Sir 
Christopher would send her away — would never see her again, if 
he knew all ; and she would be happier to be punished and 
frowned on, than to be treated tenderly while she had that guilty 
secret in her breast. But then, if Sir Christopher were to know 
all, it would add to his sorrow, and make him more wretched than 
ever. No ! she could not confess it — she should have to tell 
about Anthony. But she could not stay at the Manor ; she must 
go away : she could not bear Sir Christopher's eye, could not bear 
the sight of all these things that reminded her of Anthony and of 
her sin. Perhaps she should die soon ; she felt very feeble ; there 
could not be much life in her. She would go away and live 
humbly, and pray to God to pardon her, and let her die. 

The poor child never thought of suicide. No sooner was the 
storm of anger passed than the tenderness and timidity of her 
nature returned, and she could do nothing but love and mourn. 
Her inexperience prevented her from imagining the consequences 
of her disappearance from the Manor ; she foresaw none of the 
terrible details of alarm and distress and search that must ensue. 
* They will think I am dead,' she said to herself, * and by and by 
they will forget me, and Maynard will get happy again, and love 
some one else.' 

She was roused from her absorption by a knock at the door. 
Mrs. Bellamy was there. She had come by Mr. Gilfil's request 
to see how Miss Sarti was, and to bring her some food and wine. 

* You look sadly, my dear,' said the old housekeeper, 'an' you're 
all of a quake wi' cold. Get you to bed, now do. Martha shall 
come an' warm it, an' light your fire. See now, here's some nice 
arrowroot, wi' a drop o' wine in it. Take that, an' it'll warm you. 
I must go dow^n again, for I can't awhile to stay. There's so 
many things to see to ; an' Miss Assher's in hysterics constant, 
an' her maid's ill i' bed — a poor creachy thing — an' Mrs. Sharp's 
wanted every minute. But I'll send Martha up, an' do you get 
ready to go to bed, there's a dear child, an' take care o' yourself.' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 221 

* Tkank you, dear mammy,' said Tina, kissing the little old 
woman's wrinkled cheek ; * I shall eat the arrowroot, and don't 
trouble about me any more to-night. I shall do very well when 
Martha has lighted my fire. Tell Mr. Gilfil I'm better. I shall 
go to bed by and by, so don't you come up again, because you 
may only disturb me.' 

' Well, well, take care o' yourself, there's a good child, an' God 
send you may sleep.' 

Caterina took the arrowroot quite eagerly, while Martha was 
lighting her fire. She wanted to get strength for her journey, 
and she kept the plate of biscuits by her that she might put some 
in her pocket. Her whole mind was now bent on going away 
from the Manor, and she was thinking of all the ways and means 
her little life's experience could suggest. 

It was dusk now ; she must wait till early dawn, for she was 
too timid to go away in the dark, but she must make her escape 
before any one was up in the house. There would be people 
watching Anthony in the library, but she could make her way out 
of a small door leading into the garden, against the drawing-room 
on the other side of the house. 

She laid her cloak, bonnet, and veil ready ; then she lighted a 
candle, opened her desk, and took out the broken portrait wrapped 
in paper. She folded it again in two little notes of Anthony's, 
written in pencil, and placed it in her bosom. There was the 
little china box, too — Dorcas's present, the pearl earrings, and a 
silk purse, with fifteen seven-shilling pieces in it, the presents Sir 
Christopher had made her on her birthday, ever since she had 
been at the Manor. Should she take the earrings and the seven- 
shilling pieces 1 She could not bear to part with them ; it seemed 
as if they had some of Sir Christopher's love in them. She would 
like them to be buried with her. She fastened the little round 
earrings in her ears, and put the purse with Dorcas's box in her 
pocket. She had another purse there, and she took it out to 
count her money, for she would never spend her seven-shilling 
pieces. She had a guinea and eight shillings- that would be 
plenty. 

So now she sat down to wait for the morning, afraid to lay 
herself on the bed lest she should sleep too long. If she could 
but see Anthony once more and kiss his cold forehead ! But that 
could not be. She did not deserve it. She must go away from 
him, away from Sir Christopher, and Lady Cheverel, and Maynard, 
and everybody who had been kind to her, and thought her good 
while she was so wicked. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Some of Mrs. Sharp's earliest thoughts, the next morning, were 
given to Caterina, whom she had not been able to visit the evening 
before, and whom, from a nearly equal mixture of affection and 
self-importance, she did not at all like resigning to Mrs. Bellamy's 
care. At half-past eight o'clock she went up to Tina's room, bent 
on benevolent dictation as to doses and diet and lying in bed. 
But on opening the door she found the bed smooth and empty. 
Evidently it had not been slept in. What could this meani 
Had she sat up all night, and was she gone out to walk 1 The 
poor thing's head might be touched by what had happened 
yesterday ; it was such a shock — finding Captain Wybrow in that 
way ; she was perhaps gone out of her mind. Mrs. Sharp looked 
anxiously in the place where Tina kept her hat and cloak ; they 
were not there, so that she had had at least the presence of mind 
to put them on. Still the good woman felt greatly alarmed, and 
hastened away to tell Mr. Gilfil, who, she knew, was in his study. 

* Mr. Gilfil,' she said, as soon as she had closed the door behind 
her, * my mind misgives me dreadful about Miss Sarti.' 

*What is itr said poor Maynard, with a horrible fear that 
Caterina had betrayed something about the dagger. 

* She's not in her room, an' her bed's not been slept in this 
night, an' her hat an' cloak's gone.' 

For a minute or two Mr. Gilfil was unable to speak. ,Hefelt 
sure the worst had come : Caterina had destroyed herselfi TEe 
strong man suddenly looked so ill and helpless that Mrgf Sharp 
began to be frightened at the effect o( her abruptness. 

* Oh, sir, I am grieved to my heart to shock you so ; but I didn't 
know who else to go to.' 

' No, no, you were quite right.' 

He gathered some strength from his very despair. It was all 
over, and he had nothing now to do but to suffer and to help the 
suffering. He went on in a firmer voice — 

* Be sure not to breathe a word about it to any one. We must 

222 



MR. GILFIL*S LOVE-STORY 223 

not alarm Lady Cheverel and Sir Christopher. Miss Sarti may be 
only walking in the garden. She was terribly excited by what 
she saw yesterday, and perhaps was unable to lie down from 
restlessness. Just go quietly through the empty rooms, and see 
whether she is in the house. I will go and look for her in the 
grounds.' 

He went down, and, to avoid giving any alarm in the house, 
walked at once towards the Mosslands in search of Mr. Bates, 
whom he met returning from his breakfast. To the gardener he 
confided his fear about Caterina, assigning as a reason for this 
fear the probability that the shock she had undergone yesterday 
had unhinged her mind, and begging him to send men in search of 
her through the gardens and park, and inquire if she had been 
seen at the lodges ; and if she were not found or heard of in this 
way, to lose no time in dragging the waters round the Manor. 

' God forbid it should be so, Bates, but we shall be the easier 
for having searched everywhere." 

* Troost to mae, troost to mae, Mr. Gilfil. Eh ! but I'd ha' 
worked for day-wage all the rest o' my life rether than anythin' 
should ha' happened to her.' 

The good gardener, in deep distress, strode away to the stables 
that he might send the grooms on horseback through the park. 

Mr. Gilfil's next thought was to search the Rookery : she might 
be haunting the scene of Captain Wybrow's death. He went 
hastily over every mound, looked round every large tree, and 
followed every winding of the walks. In reality he had little hope 
of finding her there ; but the bare possibility fenced off for a time 
the fatal conviction that Caterina's body would be found in the 
water. When the Rookery had been searched in vain, he walked 
fast to the border of the little stream that bounded one side of the 
grounds.. The stream was almost everywhere hidden among trees, 
and there was one place where it was broader and deeper than else- 
where — she would be more likely to come to that spot than to 
the pool. He hurried along with strained eyes, his imagination 
continually creating what he dreaded to see. 

There is something white behind that overhanging bough. 
His knees tremble under him. He seems to see part of her dress 
caught on a branch, and her dear dead face upturned. God, 
give strength to Thy creature, on whom Thou hast laid this great 
agony 1 He is nearly up to the bough, and the white object is 
moving. It is a waterfowl, that spreads its wings and flies away 
screaming. He hardly knows whether it is a relief or a disappoint- 
ment that she is not there. The conviction that she is dead 
presses its cold weight upon him none the leas heavily. 



224 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

As he reached the great pool in front of the Manor, he saw 
Mr. Bates, with a group of men already there, preparing for the 
dreadful search which could only displace his vague despair by a 
definite horror ; for the gardener, in his restless anxiety, had been 
unable to defer this until other means of search had proved vain. 
The pool was not now laughing with sparkles among the water- 
lilies. It looked black and cruel under the sombre sky, as if its 
cold depths held relentlessly all the murdered hope and joy of 
Maynard GilfiFs life. 

Thoughts of the sad consequences for others as well as himself 
were crowding on his mind. The blinds and shutters were all 
closed in front of the Manor, and it was not likely that Sir 
Christopher would be aware of anything that was passing out- 
side ; but Mr. Gilfil felt that Caterina's disappearance could not 
long be concealed from him. The coroner's inquest would be held 
shortly ; she would be inquired for, and then it would be inevitable 
that the Baronet should know all. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

At twelve o'clock, when all search and inquiry had been in vain, 
and the coroner was expected every moment, Mr. Gilfil could no 
longer defer the hard duty of revealing this fresh calamity to Sir 
Christopher, who must otherwise have it discovered to him 
abruptly. 

The Baronet was seated in his dressing-room, where the dark 
window-curtains were drawn so as to admit only a sombre light. 
It was the first time Mr. Gilfil had had an interview with him 
this morning, and he was struck to see how a single day and 
night of grief had aged the fine old man. The lines in his brow 
and about his mouth were deepened ; his complexion looked dull 
and withered ; there was a swollen ridge under his eyes ; and the 
eyes themselves, which used to cast so keen a glance on the 
present, had the vacant expression which tells that vision is no 
longer a sense; but a memory. 

He held out his hand to Maynard, who pressed it, and sat 
down beside him in silence. Sir Christopher's heart began to 
swell at this unspoken sympathy; the tears would rise, loovld 
roll in great drops down his cheeks. The first tears he had shed 
since boyhood were for Anthony. 

Maynard felt as if his tongue were glued to the roof of his 
mouth. He could not speak first : he must wait until Sir 
Christopher said something which might lead on to the cruel 
words that must be spoken. 

At last the Baronet mastered himself enough to say, * I'm very 
weak, Maynard — God help me ! I didn't think anything would 
unman me in this way; but I'd built everything on that lad. 
Perhaps I've been wrong in not forgiving my sister. She lost one 
of her sons a little while ago. I've been too proud and obstinate.' 
* We can hardly learn humility and tenderness enough except 
by suffering,' said Maynard; *and God sees we are in need of 
suffering, for it is falling more and more heavily on us. We have 
a new trouble this morning.' 

225 Q 



226 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Tina ? ' said Sir Christopher, looking up anxiously — ' is Tina 
ill?' 

' I am in dreadful uncertainty about her. She was very much 
agitated yesterday — and with her delicate health — I am afraid to 
think what turn the agitation may have taken.' 

* Is she delirious, poor dear little one ? ' 

*Grod only knows how she is. We are unable to find her. 
When Mrs. Sharp went up to her room this morning, it was 
empty. She had not been in bed. Her hat and cloak were gone. 
I have had search made for her everywhere — in the house and 
garden, in the park, and — in the water. No one has seen her 
since Martha went up to light her fire at seven o'clock in the 
evening.' 

While Mr. Gilfil was speaking, Sir Christopher's eyes, which 
were eageriy turned on him, recovered some of their old keenness, 
and some sudden painful emotion, as at a new thought, flitted 
rapidly across his already agitated face, like the shadow of a dark 
cloud over the waves. When the pause came, he laid his hand 
on Mr. Gilfil's arm, and said in a lower voice — 

* Maynard, did that poor thing love Anthony 1 ' 
' She did.' 

Maynard hesitated after these words, struggling between his 
reluctance to inflict a yet deeper wound on Sir Christopher, and 
his determination that no injustice should be done to Caterina. 
Sir Christopher's eyes were still fixed on him in solemn inquiry, 
and his own sunk towards the ground, while he tried to find the 
words that would tell the truth least cruelly. 

* You ^ust not have any wrong thoughts about Tina,' he said 
at length. * I must tell you now, for her sake, what nothing but 
this should ever have caused to pass my lips. Captain Wybrow 
won her affections by attentions which, in his position, he was 
bound not to show her. Before his marriage was talked of, he 
had behaved to her like a lover.' 

Sir Christopher relaxed his hold of Maynard's arm, and looked 
away from him. He was silent for some minutes, evidently 
attempting to master himself, so as to be able to speak calmly. 

* I must see Henrietta immediately,' he said at last, with some- 
thing of his old sharp decision ; * she must know all ; but we 
must keep it from every one else as far as possible. My dear 
boy,' he continued in a kinder tone, *the heaviest burthen has 
fallen on you. But we may find her yet ; we must not despair : 
there has not been time enough for us to be certain. Poor dear 
little one ! God help me ! I thought I saw everything, and was 
stone-blind all the while.' 



3i: 






CHAPTER XIX 

The sad slow week was gone by at last. At the coroner's inquest 
a verdict of sudden death had been pronounced. Dr. Hart, 
acquainted with Captain Wybrow's previous state of health, had 
given his opinion that death had been imminent from long- 
established disease of the heart, though it had probably been 
accelerated by some unusual emotion. Miss Assher was the only 
person who positively knew the motive that had led Captain 
Wybrow to the Rookery ; but she had not mentioned Caterina's 
name, and all painful details or inquiries were studiously kept 
from her. Mr. Gilfil and Sir Christopher, however, knew enough 
to conjecture that the fatal agitation was due to an appointed 
meeting with Caterina. 

All search and inquiry after her had been fruitless, and were 
the more likely to be so because they were carried on under the 
prepossession that she had committed suicide. No ore noticed 
the absence of the trifles she had taken from her desk ; no one 
knew of the likeness, or that she had hoarded her seveii-shilling 
pieces, and it was not remarkable that she should have happened 
to be wearing the pearl earrings. She had left the house, they 
thought, taking nothing with her ; it seemed impossible she could 
have gone far ; and she must have been in a state of mental 
excitement, that made it too propable she had only gone to seek 
relief in death. The same places within three or four miles of 
the Manor were searched again and again — every pond, every 
ditch in the neighbourhood was examined. 

Sometimes Maynard thought that death might have come on 
unsought, from cold and exhaustion ; and not a day passed but 
he wandered through the neighbouring woods, turning up the 
heaps of dead leaves, as if it were possible her dear body could be 
hidden there. Then another horrible thought recurred, and before 
each night came he had been again through all the uninhabited 
rooms of the house, to satisfy himself once more that she was not 
hidden behind some cabinet, or door, or curtain — that he should 

227 



228 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

not find her there with madness in her eyes, looking and looking, 
and yet not seeing him. 

But at last those five long days and nights were at an end, the 
funeral was over, and the carriages were returning through the 
park. When they had set out, a heavy rain was falling; but 
now the clouds were breaking up, and a gleam of sunshine -was 
sparkling among the dripping boughs under which they were 
passing. This gleam fell upon a man on horseback who was 
jogging slowly along, and whom Mr. Gilfil recognised, in spite of 
diminished rotundity, as Daniel Knott, the coachman who had 
married the rosy -cheeked Dorcas ten years before. 

Every new incident suggested the same thought to Mr. Gilfil ; 
and his eye no sooner fell on Knott than he said to himself, * Can 
he be come to tell us anything about Caterina?' Then he 
remembered that Caterina had been very fond of Dorcas, and 
that she always had some present ready to send her when Knott 
paid an occasional visit to the Manor. Could Tina have gone to 
Dorcas? But his heart sank again as he thought, very likely 
Knott had only come because he had heard of Captain Wybrow's 
death, and wanted to know how his old master had borne the 
blow. 

As soon as the carriage reached the house, he went up to his 
study and walked about nervously, longing, but afraid, to go 
down and speak to Knott, lest his faint hope should be dissipated. 
Any one looking at that face, usually so full of calm goodwill, 
would have seen that the last week's suffering had left deep traces. 
By day he had been riding or wandering incessantly, either search- 
ing for Caterina himself, or directing inquiries to be made by 
others. By night he had not known sleep — only intermittent 
dozing, in which he seemed to be finding Caterina dead, and woke 
up with a start from this unreal agony to the real anguish of 
believing that he should see her no more. The clear grey eyes 
looked sunken and restless, the full careless lips had a strange 
tension about them, and the brow, formerly so smooth and open, 
was contracted as if with pain. He had not lost the object of a 
few months' passion ; he had lost the being who was bound up 
with his power of loving, as the brook we played by or the 
flowers we gathered in childhood are bound up with our sense of 
beauty. Love meant nothing for him but to love Caterina. For 
years, the thought of her had been present in eveiything, like the 
air and the light ; and now she was gone, it seemed as if all 
pleasure had lost its vehicle : the sky, the earth, the daily ride, 
the daily talk might be there, but the loveliness and the joy that 
were in them had gone for ever. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 229 

Presently, as he still paced backwards and forwards, he heard 
steps along the corridor, and there was a knock at his door. His 
voice trembled as he said *Come in,' and the rush of renewed 
hope was hardly distinguishable from pain when he saw Warren 
enter with Daniel Knott behind him. 

' Knott is come, sir, with news of Miss Sarti. I thought it 
best to bring him to you first.' 

Mr. Gilfil could not help going up to the old coachman and 
wringing his hand ; but he was unable to speak, and only 
motioned to him to take a chair, while Warren left the room. 
He hung upon Daniel's moon -face, and listened to his small 
piping voice, with the same solemn yearning expectation with 
which he would have given ear to the most awful messenger 
from the land of shades. 

' It war Dorkis, sir, would hev me come ; but we knowed 
nothin' o' what's happened at the Manor. She's frightened out 
on her wits about Miss Sarti, an' she would hev me saddle Black- 
bird this momin', an' leave the ploughin', to come an' let Sir 
Christifer an' my lady know. P'raps you've beared, sir, we don't 
keep the Cross Keys at Sloppeter now ; a uncle o' mine died 
three 'ear ago, an' left me a leggicy. He was bailiff to Squire 
Ramble, as bed them there big farms on his bans ; an' so we took 
a little farm o' forty acres or thereabout, becos Dorkis didn't like 
the public when she got moithered wi' children. As pritty a 
place as iver you see, sir, wi' water at the back convenent for the 
cattle.' 

* For God's sake,' said Maynard, * tell me what it is about Miss 
Sarti. Don't stay to tell me anything else now.' 

*Well, sir,' said Knott, rather frightened by the parson's 
vehemence, *she come t' our house i' the carrier's cart o' 
Wednesday, when it was welly nine o'clock at night ; and Dorkis 
run out, for she beared the cart stop, an' Miss Sarti throwed her 
arms roun' Dorkis's neck an' Fays, " Tek me in, Dorkis, tek me 
in," an' went off into a swoond, like. An' Dorkis calls out to 
me, — " Dannel," she calls — an' I run out and carried the young 
miss in, an' she come roun' arter a bit, an' opened her eyes, and 
Dorkis got her to drink a spoonful o' rum-an'-water — we've got 
some capital rum as we brought from the Cross Keys, and Dorkis 
won't let nobody drink it. She says she keeps it for sickness ; 
but for my part, I think it's a pity to drink good rum when your 
mouth's out o' taste ; you may just as well hev doctor's stuff. 
However, Dorkis got her to bed, an' there she's lay iver sin', 
stoopid like, an' niver speaks, an' on'y teks little bits an' sups 
when Dorkis coaxes her. An' we begun to be frightened, and 



230 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

couldn't think what had made her come away from the Manor, 
and Dorkis was afeared there was summat wrong. So this 
momin' she could hold no longer, an' would hev no nay but I 
must come an* see ; an' so I've rode twenty mile upo' Blackbird, 
as thinks all the while he's a-ploughin', an' turns sharp roun', 
every thirty yards, as if he was at the end of a furrow. I've bed 
a sore time wi' him, I can tell you, sir.' 

* God bless you, Knott, for coming ! ' said Mr. Gilfil, wringing 
the old coachman's hand again. * Now go down and have some- 
thing and rest yourself. You will stay here to-night, and by and 
by I shall come to you to learn the nearest way to your house. 
I shall get ready to ride there immediately, when I have spoken 
to Sir Christopher.' 

In an hour from that time Mr. Gilfil was galloping on a stout 
mare towards the little muddy village of Callam, five miles beyond 
Sloppeter. Once more he saw some gladness in the afternoon 
sunlight ; once more it was a pleasure to see the hedgerow trees 
flying past him, and to be conscious of a * good seat ' while his 
black Kitty bounded beneath him, and the air whistled to the 
rhythm of her pace. Caterina was not dead ; he had found her ; 
his love and tenderness and long-suffering seemed so strong, they 
must recall her to life and happiness. After that week of despair, 
the rebound was so violent that it carried his hopes at once as far 
as the utmost mark they had ever reached. Caterina would come 
to love him at last ; she would be his. They had been carried 
through all that dark and weary way that she might know the 
depth of his love. How he would cherish her — his little bird 
with the timid bright eye, and the sweet throat that trembled 
with love and music ! She would nestle against him, and the 
poor little breast which had been so ruffled and bruised should be 
safe for evermore. In the love of a brave and faithful man there 
is always a strain of maternal tenderness; he gives out again 
those beams of protecting fondness which were shed on him as he 
lay on his mother's knee. 

It was twilight as he entered the village of Callam, and, asking 
a homeward-bound labourer the way to Daniel Knott's, learned 
that it was by the church, which showed its stumpy ivy-clad 
spire on a slight elevation of ground ; a useful addition to the 
means of identifying that desirable homestead afforded by Daniel's 
description — Hhe prittiest place iver you see' — though a small 
cow-yard full of excellent manure, and leading right up to the 
door, without any frivolous interruption from garden or railing, 
might perhaps have been enough to make that description un- 
mistakably specific. 



1 







Dorcas was at the door. 



— 1 



MK. (;iLHl/8 LoVh -.. 

Mr. i.liliW h.id no t?noi.«'r rrarh'*«l ti^ . ' • 
ctj'.v yar«l, than he was 'l*'-''ji(il J<y i <j.- ..«•'• ■•... 

preniMtuiTly invcMtfil wim thf» /o/^/ ". ■ • . : 

rail iurwar*! tu let in tho unusual vi-. .» . :•..•,...' 
was at the <l«>ur, the ro.so- on hei cj.'. =. •;■ ... .t • »' 
for tlie three pair t>f chr. ks V in. Ii f..,...-;. • •.; . ' • 
tor the very fat l';ih) ^^\ut stavni 'i- 'r • ; • ■ • . 

trust with calm n-lish. 

*L it i\ri. Gillil, jsirV mud J''.r. a-. •' r-- 
his way throuicii the (lam]> straw, ;/t»'; :• • ■ .. 

'Yes, D ureas : liu grown out .t v .' . 

Miss Sarti 1 ' 

*Just for all the wnrld thr^ >'.\]\- \ f^f. « - • i .. • 

t'jM you ; for I reckon \ou ve eon i< r'-..!'- »: • ," . • 

tonie uueonnnon quick, to he sure. 

'Yes, he cjot t<» the Manor :ro.iut •' i <> ' • - •. ' " . 

•'•^on as I could. vShe's nut -sv.-i--'. i.- !;• 

'No eluuei«\ sir. for hotter (•{• ui < V ■ - . • \. 

n». sir^ She lie.-, there t.ikin" no n;ri't ; ■ 
t.:»hy a.^ is ony a week oU, an^ l.>ok< ..: . 

•.r"lnt know in(;. Oh wliat lan i* h«- ^! • ». . : •» :« i 

.-? V to Iwive the Manor .- JJows hi< ht m' i •• • 

' In great truuhle, Dorcas, i '.i;.' \u \\ .■•..•.■ ' . • .- 

•»•! hew, ymi know, ha.s d'wd smiu. r'i\. M - "■• •• < .»* 

."••/ (h!i(l, and I think the ..ho* k iii- .'X i.- ;• 

' FJi. dear I that tine y"ung l,' I't ''f.)'-!!! .-> " .> " ..< :. 

. i>anne] tohl me ahout. I reniei"!., r .->. t-iit I ri • • • • i 

.,.'.' UTi, a-visirin' at the Maiu-r. \^'ei .-i".: »•• .: •• •• t.. 

. ■ h'litour and my lady. Ihit tliir ],if.( \[ «., i ,. . i . . uni 

:•».. .* jyiu" dead'^ Oh (hnr, «*l> .h:J:"' ' 

»>.'»r«-a^ had led tlu^ wa> iiUo tin };e.-t kit* li' n ;, • -i : '• 

orit a.s i)est kitchti.s used to h*- in tu. n.huUM'' w c . • • i '•... 
r. ' -n'.- the file reth'f'tfd in a hri'^lit niw ot' p^wni • . ••. • 
. ■ n : t}.e sand-.'^coured deal tables >.) rh an you Iimi.'*! • i • .. 

• J : ih.' salt-coti'er in one chinmr-y cnnier, and a tl;n. - -, 

m tli*^ other, tlie vs.dls l>ehind liamlsomelv taiH.-: .. \. ..< 
> nf ha<'on, and the ceiliriir ornahiinteil with pci.ii .. . .- 

•'I V" tluwn, sir- (hj/ said Don-as, movinir till il •>• • ■*' \ 
.i'\ let me get you somethiu' alter your 1-;:'- , • •\ . 

. rU'cky, come an' tek the baby.' 

• \}\ a n'd-arme(l damsrl, emerired from the aiii"o\ i-i ' - f-. 

, an<l )>08sessed herself of ba)»y, wIjom^ feeling':> w iv: j.. ■ .• 
: ;ivtiniently apathetic under the trani<ference. 
''^Iiat'll you please to tek, sir, a.-^ I can give you? Til j:it 












i^; 



■'^: 



:»■. 



■■--•^-a'v-^-.f;; ; ^ '4.. . 







I :..r(-a> was at llie door. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 231 

Mr. Gilfil had no sooner reached the gate leading into the 
cow-yard, than he was descried by a flaxen -haired lad of nine, 
prematurely invested with the toga virilis, or smock-frock, who 
ran forward to let in the unusual visitor. In a moment Dorcas 
was at the door, the roses on her cheeks apparently all the redder 
for the three pair of cheeks which formed a group round her, and 
for the very fat baby who stared in her arms, and sucked a long 
crust with calm relish. 

* Is it Mr. Gilfil, sir ? ' said Dorcas, curtsying low as he made 
his way through the damp straw, after tying up his horse. 

* Yes, Dorcas ; I^m grown out of your knowledge. How is 
Miss Sartir 

* Just for all the world the same, sir, as I suppose Dannel's 
told you ; for I reckon you've come from the Manor, though you're 
come uncommon quick, to be sure.' 

* Yes, he got to the Manor about one o'clock, and I set off as 
soon as I could. She's not worse, is she ? ' 

* No change, sir, for better or wuss. Will you please to walk 
in, sir ? She lies there takin' no notice o' nothin', no more nor a 
baby as is on'y a week old, an' looks at me as blank as if she 
didn't know me. Oh what can it be, Mr. Gilfil? How come 
she to leave the Manor 1 How's his honour an' my lady ? ' 

* In great trouble, Dorcas. Captain Wybrow, Sir Christopher's 
nephew, you know, has died suddenly. Miss Sarti found him 
lying dead, and I think the shock has affected her mind.' 

* Eh, dear ! that fine young gentleman as was to be th' heir, 
as Dannel told me about. I remember seein' him when he was a 
little un, a-visitin' at the Manor. Well-a-day, what a grief to 
his honour and my lady. But that poor Miss Tina — an' she found 
him a-lyin' dead 1 Oh dear, oh dear ! ' 

Dorcas had led the way into the best kitchen, as charming a 
room as best kitchens used to be in farmhouses which had no 
parlours — the fire reflected in a bright row of pewter plates and 
dishes ; the sand-scoured deal tables so clean you longed to stroke 
them ; the salt-coffer in one chirtmey-corner, and a three-cornered 
chair in the other, the walls behind handsomely tapestried with 
flitches of bacon, and the ceiling ornamented with pendent hams. 

* Sit ye down, sir — do,' said Dorcas, moving the three-cornered 
chair, *an' let me get you somethin' after your long journey. 
Here, Becky, come an' tek the baby.' 

Becky, a red-armed damsel, emerged from the adjoining back- 
kitchen, and possessed herself of baby, whose feelings or fat made 
him conveniently apathetic under the transference. 

'What'U you please to tek, sir, as I can give you? I'll get 



232 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

you a rasher o' bacon i' no time, an' I've got some tea, or belike 
you'd tek a glass o' rum-an'-water. I know we've got nothin' as 
you're used t' eat and drink ; but such as I hev, sir, I shall be 
proud to give you.' 

* Thank you, Dorcas ; I can't eat or drink anything. I'm not 
hungry or tired. Let us talk about Tina. Has she spoken 
at all]' 

* Niver since the fust words. " Dear Dorkis," says she, " tek 
me in " ; an' then went oflf into a faint, an' not a v/ord has she 
spoken since. I get her t' eat little bits an' sups o' things, but 
she teks no notice o' nothin'. I've took up Bessie wi' me now 
an' then ' — here Dorcas lifted to her lap a curiy-headed little girl 
of three, who was twisting a corner of her mother's apron, and 
opening round eyes at the gentleman — 'folks '11 tek notice o' 
children sometimes when they won't o' nothin' else. An' we 
gethered the autumn crocuses out o' th' orchard, and Bessie carried 
'em up in her hand, an' put 'em on the bed. I knowed how fond 
Miss Tina was o' flowers an' them things, when she was a little 
un. But she looked at Bessie an' the flowers just the same as if 
she didn't see 'em. It cuts me to th' heart to look at them eyes 
o' hers ; I think they're bigger nor iver, an' they look like my 
poor baby's as died, when it got so thin — oh dear, its little hands 
you could see thro' 'em. But I've great hopes if she was to see you, 
sir, as come from the Manor, it might bring back her mind, like.' 

Mayiiard had that hope too, but he felt cold mists of fear 
gathering round him after the few bright warm hours of joyful 
confidence which had passed since he first heard that Caterina 
was alive. The thought would urge itself upon him that her 
mind and body might never recover the strain that had been put 
upon them — that her delicate thread of life had already nearly 
spun itself out. 

* Go now, Dorcas, and see how she is, but don't say anything 
about my being here. Perhaps it would be better for me to wait 
till daylight before I see her, and yet it would be very hard to 

• pass another night in this way.' 

Dorcas set down little Bessie, and went away. The three 
other children, including young Daniel in his smock-frock, were 
standing opposite to Mr. Gilfil, watching him still more shyly 
now they were without their mother's countenance. He drew 
little Bessie towards him, and set her on his knee. She shook 
her yellow curls out of her eyes, and looked up at him as she 
said — 

* Zoo tome to tee ze yady ? Zoo mek her peak ? What zoo 
do to her? Tissher?' 



MR. GILFITyS LOVE-STORY 233 

* Do you like to be kissed, Bessie 1 ' 

'Det,' said Bessie, immediately ducking down her head very 
low, in resistance to the expected rejoinder. 

*WeVe got two pups,' said young Daniel, emboldened by 
observing the gentleman's amenities towards Bessie. * Shall I 
show 'em yer ? One's got white spots.' 

* Yes, let me see them.' 

Daniel ran out, and presently reappeared with two blind 
puppies, eagerly followed by the mother, affectionate though 
mongrel, and an exciting scene was beginning when Dorcas 
returned and said — 

* There's niver any difference in her hardly. I think you 
needn't wait, sir. She lies very still, as she al'ys does. I've put 
two candles i' the room, so as she may see you well. You'll 
please t' excuse the room, sir, an' the cap as she has on ; it's one 
o' mine.' 

Mr. Gilfil nodded silently, and rose to follow her upstairs. 
They turned in at the first door, their footsteps making little 
noise on the plaster floor. The red-checkered linen curtains were 
drawn at the head of the bed, and Dorcas had placed the candles 
on this side of the room, so that the light might not fall 
oppressively on Caterina's eyes. When she had opened the door, 
Dorcas whispered, * I'd better leave you, sir, I think ? ' 

Mr. Gilfil motioned assent, and advanced beyond the curtain. 
Caterina lay with her eyes turned the other way, an^^ seemed 
unconscious that any one had entered. Her eyes, as Dorcas had 
said, looked larger than ever, perhaps because her face was thinner 
and paler, and her hair quite gathered away under one of Dorcas's 
thick caps. The small hands, too, that lay listlessly on the out- 
side of the bed-clothes were thinner than ever. She looked 
younger than she really was, and any one seeing the tiny face and 
hands for the first time might have thought they belonged to a 
little girl of twelve, who was being taken away from coming 
instead of past sorrow. 

When Mr. Gilfil advanced and stood opposite to her, the light 
fell full upon his face. A slight startled expression came over 
Caterina's eyes ; she looked at him earnestly for a few moments, 
then lifted up her hand as if to beckon him to stoop down towards 
her, and whispered * Maynard ! ' 

He seated himself on the bed, and stooped down towards her. 
She whispered again — 

* Maynard, did you see the dagger ? ' 

He followed his first impulse in answering her, and it was a 



234 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

' Yes/ he whispered, * I found it in your pocket, and put it 
back again in the cabinet.' 

He took her hand in his and held it gently, awaiting what she 
would say next. His heart swelled so with thankfulness that she 
had recognised him, he could hardly repress a sob. Gradually 
her eyes became softer and less intense in their gaze. The tears 
were slowly gathering, and presently some large hot drops rolled 
down her cheek. Then the flood-gates were opened, and the 
heart -easing stream gushed forth ; deep sobs came ; and for 
nearly an hour she lay without speaking, while the heavy icy 
pressure that withheld her misery from utterance was thus 
melting away. How precious these tears were to Maynard, who 
day after day had been shuddering at the continually recurring 
image of Tina with the dry scorching stare of insanity ! 

By degrees the sobs subsided, she began to breathe calmly, and 
lay quiet with her eyes shut. Patiently Maynard sat, not heeding 
the flight of the hours, not heeding the old clock that ticked 
loudly on the landing. But when it was nearly ten, Dorcas, 
impatiently anxious to know the result of Mr. GilfiFs appearance, 
could not help stepping in on tip-toe. Without moving, he 
whispered in her ear to supply him with candles, see that the 
cow-boy had shaken down his mare, and go to bed — he would 
watch with Caterina — a great change had come over her. 

Before long, Tina's lips began to move. * Maynard,' she 
whispered again. He leaned towards her, and she went on—: 

* You know how wicked I am, then ? You know what I meant 
to do with the dagger ? ' 

' Did you mean to kill yourself, Tina 1 ' 

She shook her head slowly, and then was silent for a long 
while. At last, looking at him with solemn eyes, she whispered, 
* To kill himJ 

* Tina, my loved one, you would never have done it. God saw 
your whole heart ; He knows you would never harm a living 
thing. He watches over His children, and will not let them do 
things they would pray with their whole hearts not to do. It 
was the angry thought of a moment, and He forgives you.' 

She sank into silence again till it was nearly midnight. The 
weary enfeebled spirit seemed to be making its slow way with 
difficulty through the windings of thought ; and when she began 
to whisper again, it was in reply to Maynard's words. 

* But I had had such wicked feelings for a long while. I was 
so angry, and I hated Miss Assher so, and I didn't care what 
came to anybody, because I was so miserable myself. I was full 
of bad passions. No one else was ever so wicked.' 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 235 

*Yes, Tina, many are just as wicked. I often have very 
wicked feelings, and am tempted to do wrong things ; but then 
my body is stronger than yours, and I can hide my feelings and 
resist them better. They do not master me so. You have seen 
the little birds when they are very young and just begin to fly, 
how all their feathers are ruffled when they are frightened or 
angry ; they have no power over themselves left, and might fall 
into a pit from mere fright. You were like one of those little 
birds. Your sorrow and suffering had taken such hold of you, 
you hardly knew what you did.' 

He would not speak long, lest he should tire her, and oppress 
her with too many thoughts. Long pauses seemed needful for 
her before she could concentrate her feelings in short words. 

' But when I meant to do it,' was the next thing she whispered, 
*it was as bad as if I had done it.' 

'No, my Tina,' answered Maynard slowly, waiting a little 
between each sentence ; * we mean to do wicked things that we 
never could do, just as we mean to do good or clever things that 
we never could do. Our thoughts are often worse than we are, 
just as they are often better than we are. And God sees us as 
we are altogether, not in separate feelings or actions, as our fellow- 
men see us. We are always doing each other injustice, and 
thinking better or worse of each other than we deserve, because 
we only hear and see separate words and actions. We don't see 
each other's whole nature. But God sees that you could not 
have committed that crime.' 

Caterina shook her head slowly, and was silent. After a 
while— 

* I don't know,' she said ; * I seemed to see him coming towards 
me, just as he would really have looked, and I meant — I meant 
to do it.' 

* But when you saw him — tell me how it was, Tina ? ' 

* I saw him lying on the ground and thought he was ill. I 
don't know how it was then ; I forgot everything. I knelt down 
and spoke to him, and — and he took no notice of me, and his 
eyes were fixed, and I began to think he was dead.' 

* And you have never felt angry since ? ' 

* Oh no, no ; it is I who have been more wicked than any one ; 
it is I who have been wrong all through.' 

* No, Tina ; the fault has not all been yours ; he was wrong ; 
he gave you provocation. And wrong makes wrong. When 
people use us ill, we can hardly help having ill feeling towards 
them. But that second wrong is more excusable. I am more 
sinful than you, Tina ; I have often had very bad feelings towards 



236 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Captain Wybrow ; and if he had provoked me as he did you, I 
should })erhaps have done something more wicked.' 

* Oh, it was not so wrong in him ; he didn't know how he 
hurt me. How was it likely he could love me as I loved him % 
And how could he marry a poor little thing like me ? ' 

Maynard made no reply to this, and there was again silence, 
till Tina said— 

* Then I was so deceitful ; they didn't know how wicked I 
was. Padroncello didn't know ; his good little monkey he used 
to call me ; and if he had known, oh how naughty he would have 
thought me ! ' 

* My Tina, we have all our secret sins ; and if we knew our- 
selves, we should not judge each other harshly. Sir Christopher 
himself has felt, since this trouble came upon him, that he has 
been too severe and obstinate.' 

In this way — in these broken confessions and answering words 
of comfort — the hours wore on, from the deep black night to the 
chill early twilight, and from early twilight to the first yellow 
streak of morning parting the purple cloud. Mr. Gilfil felt as if 
in the long hours of that night the bond that united his love for 
ever and alone to Caterina had acquired fresh strength and 
sanctity. It is so with the human relations that rest on the 
deep emotional sympathy of affection : every new day and night 
of joy or sorrow is a new ground, a new consecration, for the love 
that is nourished by memories as well as hopes — the love to which 
perpetual repetition is not a weariness but a want, and to which 
a separated joy is the beginning of pain. 

The cocks began to crow ; the gate swung ; there was a tramp 
of footsteps in the yard, and Mr. Gilfil heard Dorcas stirring. 
These sounds seemed to affect Caterina, for she looked anxiously 
at him and said, * Maynard, are you going away ? ' 

' No, I shall stay here at Callam until you are better, and then 
you will go away too.' 

* Never to the Manor again, oh no ! I shall live poorly, and 
get my own bread.' 

- - *'Well, dearest, you shall do what you would like best. But 
I wish you could go to sleep now. Try to rest quietly, and by 
and by you will perhaps sit up a little. God has kept you in life 
in spite of all this sorrow ; it will be sinful not to try and make 
the best of His gift. Dear Tina, you will try ; — and little Bessie 
brought you some crocuses once, you didn't notice the poor little 
thing ; but you will notice her when she comes again, will you 
notr 

* I will try,' whispered Tina humbly, and then closed her eyes. 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 237 

By the time the sun was above the horizon, scattering the 
clouds, and shining with pleasant morning warmth through the 
little leaded window, Caterina was asleep. Maynard gently loosed 
the tiny hand, cheered Dorcas with the good news, and made his 
way to the village inn, with a thankful heart that Tina had been 
so far herself again. Evidently the sight of him had blended 
naturally with the memories in which her mind was absorbed, 
and she had been led on to an unburthening of herself that might 
be the beginning of a complete restoration. But her body was 
so enfeebled — her soul so bruised — that the utmost tenderness 
and care would be necessary. The next thing to be done was to 
send tidings to Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel ; then to write 
and summon his sister, under whose care he had determined to 
place Caterina. The Manor, even if she had been wishing to 
return thither, would, he knew, be the most undesirable liome 
for her at present : every scene, every object there, was associated 
with still unallayed anguish. If she were domesticated for a 
time with his mild gentle sister, who had a peaceful home and a 
prattling little boy, Tina might attach herself anew to life, and 
recover, partly at least, the shock that had been given to her 
constitution. When he had written his letters and taken a hasty 
breakfast, he was soon in his saddle again, on his way to Sloppeter, 
where he would post them, and seek out a medical man, to 
whom he might confide the moral causes of Caterina's enfeebled 
condition. 



CHAPTER XX 

In less than a week from that time, Caterina was persuaded to 
travel in a comfortable carriage, under the care of Mr. Gilfil and 
his sister, Mrs. Heron, whose soft blue eyes and mild manners 
were very soothing to the poor bruised child — the more so as they 
had an air of sisterly equality which was quite new to her. 
Under Lady Cheverel's uncaressing authoritative goodwill Tina 
had always retained a certain constraint and awe ; and there was 
a sweetness before unknown in having a young and gentle woman, 
like an elder sister, bending over her caressingly, and speaking in 
low loving tones. 

Maynard was almost angry with himself for feeling happy 
while Tina's mind and body were still trembling on the verge of 
irrecoverable decline; but the new delight of acting as her 
guardian angel, of being with her every hour of the day, of 
devising everything for her comfort, of watching for a ray of 
returning interest in her eyes, was too absorbing to leave room 
for alarm or regret. 

On the third day the carriage drove up to the door of Foxholm 
Parsonage, where the Rev. Arthur Heron presented himself on the 
door-step, eager to greet his returning Lucy, and holding by the 
hand a broad-chested tawny-haired boy of five, who was smacking 
a miniature hunting-whip with great vigour. 

Nowhere was there a lawn more smooth-shaven, walks better 
swept, or a porch more prettily festooned with creepers, than at 
Foxholm Parsonage, standing snugly sheltered by beeches and 
chestnuts halfway down the pretty green hill which was sur- 
mounted by the church, and overlooking a village that straggled 
at its ease among pastures and meadows, surrounded by wild 
hedgerows and broad shadowing trees, as yet unthreatened by 
improved methods of farming. 

Brightly the fire shone in the great parlour, and brightly in 
the little pink bedroom, which was to be Caterina's, because it 
looked away from the churchyard, and on to a farm homestead, 

238 



MR. GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY 239 

with its little cluster of beehive ricks, and placid groups of cows, 
and cheerful matin sounds of healthy labour. Mrs. Heron, with 
the instinct of a delicate, impressible woman, had written to her 
husband to have this room prepared for Caterina. Contented 
speckled hens, industriously scratching for the rarely-found corn, 
may sometimes do more for a sick heart than a grove of nightin- 
gales ; there is something irresistibly calming in the unsentimental 
cheeriness of top-knotted pullets, unpetted sheep-dogs, and patient 
cart-horses enjoying a drink of muddy water. 

In such a home as this parsonage, a nest of comfort, without 
any of the stateliness that would carry a suggestion of Cheverel 
Manor, Mr. Gilfil was not unreasonable in hoping that Caterina 
might gradually shake off the haunting vision of the past, and 
recover from the langour and feebleness which were the physical 
sign of that vision's blighting presence. The next thing to be 
done was to arrange an exchange of duties with Mr. Heron's 
curate, that Maynard might be constantly near Caterina, and 
watch over her progress. She seemed to like him to be with her, 
to look uneasily for his return ; and though she seldom spoke to 
him, she was most contented when he sat by her, and held her 
tiny hand in his large protecting grasp. But Oswald, alias Ozzy, 
the broad-chested boy, was perhaps her most beneficial companion. 
With something of his uncle's person, he had inherited also his 
uncle's early taste for a domestic menagerie, and was very im- 
perative in demanding Tina's sympathy in the welfare of his 
guinea-pigs, squirrels, and dormice. With him she seemed now 
and then to have gleams of her childhood coming athwart the leaden 
clouds, and many hours of winter went by the more easily for 
being spent in Ozzy's nursery. 

Mrs. Heron was not musical, and had no instrument ; but one 
of Mr. Gilfil's cares was to procure a harpsichord, and have it 
placed in the drawing-room, always open, in the hope that some 
day the spirit of music would be reawakened in Caterina, and she 
would be attracted towards the instrument. But the winter was 
almost gone by, and he had waited in vain. The utmost improve- 
ment in Tina had not gone beyond passiveness and acquiescence — 
a quiet grateful smile, compliance with Oswald's whims, and an 
increasing consciousness of what was being said and done around 
her. Sometimes she would take up a bit of woman's work, but 
she seemed too languid to persevere in it ; her fingers soon dropped, 
and she relapsed into motionless reverie. 

At last — it was one of those bright days in the end of February, 
when the sun is shining with a promise of approaching spring. 
Maynard had been walking with her and Oswald round the garden 



240 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

to look at the snowdrops, and she was resting on the sbfa after 
the walk. Ozzy, roaming about the room in quest of a forbidden 
pleasure, came to the harpsichord, and struck the handle of his 
whip on a deep bass note. 

The vibration rushed through Caterina like an electric shock : 
it seemed as if at that instant a new soul were entering into her, 
and filling her with a deeper, more significant life. She looked 
round, rose from the sofa, and walked to the harpsichord. In a 
moment her fingers were wandering with their old sweet method 
among the keys, and her soul was floating in its true familiar 
element of delicious sound, as the water-plant that lies withered 
and shrunken on the ground expands into freedom and beauty 
when once more bathed in its native flood. 

Maynard thanked God. An active power was reawakened, and 
must make a new epoch in Caterina's recovery. 

Presently there were low liquid notes blending themselves with 
the harder tones of the instrument, and gradually the pure voice 
swelled into predominance. Little Ozzy stood in the middle of 
the room, with his mouth open and his legs very wide apart, 
struck with something like awe at this new power in ' Tin-Tin,' 
as he called her, whom he had been accustomed to think of as a 
playfellow not at all clever, and very much in need of his instruction 
on many subjects. A genie soaring with broad wings out of his 
milk-jug would not iiave been more astonishing. 

Caterina was singing the very air from the Orfeo which we 
heard her singing so many months ago at the beginning of her 
sorrows. It was Che faro, Sir Christopher's favourite, and its 
notes seemed to carry on their wings all the tenderest memories 
of her life, when Cheverel Manor was still an untroubled home. 
The long happy days of childhood and girlhood recovered all their 
rightful predominance over the short interval of sin and sorrow. 

She paused, and burst into tears — the first tears she had shed 
since she had been at Foxholm. Maynard could not help hurrying 
towards her, putting his arm round her, and leaning down to kiss 
her hair. She nestled to him, and put up her little mouth to be 



The delicate-tendrilled plant must have something to cling to. 
The soul that was bom anew to music was bom anew to love. 




Struck with something like awe. 



CHAPTER XXI 

On the 30th of May 1790, a very pretty sight was seen by the 
villagers assembled near the door of Foxholm Church. The sun 
was bright upon the dewy grass, the air was alive with the 
murmur of bees and the trilling of birds, the bushy blossoming 
chestnuts and the foamy flowering hedgerows seemed to be crowding 
round to learn why the church-bells were ringing so merrily, as 
Maynard Gilfil, his face bright with happiness, walked out of the 
old Gothic doorway with Tina on his arm. The little face was 
still pale, and there was a subdued melancholy in it, as of one who 
sups with friends for the last time, and has his ear open for the 
signal that will call him away. But the tiny hand rested with 
the pressure of contented affection on Maynard's arm, and the dark 
eyes met his downward glance with timid answering love. 

There was no train of bridesmaids ; only pretty Mrs. Heron 
leaning on the arm of a dark-haired young man hitherto unknown 
in Foxholm, and holding by the other hand little Ozzy, who 
exulted less in his new velvet cap and tunic, than in the notion 
that he was bridesman to Tin-Tin. 

Last of all came a couple whom the villagers eyed yet more 
eagerly than the bride and bridegroom : a fine old gentleman, 
who looked round with keen glances that cowed the conscious 
scapegraces among them, and a stately lady in blue-and- white silk 
robes, who must surely be like Queen Charlotte. 

*Well, that theer's whut I call ^anictur,'. said old *Mester' 
Ford, a true Staffordshire patriarch, wEo'Teaned on a stick and 
held his head very much on one side, with the air of a man who 
had little hope of the present generation, but would at all events 
give it the benefit of his criticism. * Th' yoong men noo-a-deys, 
the're poor squashy things — the' looke well anoof, but the' woon't 
wear, the' woon't wear. Theer's ne'er un '11 carry his 'ears like 
that Sir Cris'fer Chuvrell.' 

*'U11 bet yc two pots,' said another of the seniors, *as that 
yoongster a-walkin' wi' th' parson's wife '11 be Sir Cris'fer's son — 
he favours him.' 

243 



244 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Nay, yae'U bet that wi' as big a fule as yersen ; hae's noo 
son at all. As I oonderstan', hae's the nevey as is t' heir th' 
esteate. The copchman as puts oop at th' White Hoss tellt me 
as theer war another nevey, a deal finer chap t' looke at nor this 
un, as died in a fit, all on a soodden, an' soo this here yoong un's 
got upo' th' perch istid.' 

At the church gate Mr. Bates was standing in a new suit, 
ready to speak words of good omen as the bride and bridegroom 
approached. He had come all the way from Cheverel Manor on 
purpose to see Miss Tina happy once more, and would have been in a 
state of unmixed joy but for the inferiority of the wedding nosegays 
to what he could have furnished from the garden at the Manor. 

*God A'maighty bless ye both, an' send ye long laife an' 
happiness,' were the good gardener's rather tremulous words. 

* Thank you, uncle Bates; always remember Tina,' said the 
sweet low voice, which fell on Mr. Bates's ear for the last time. 

The wedding journey was to be a circuitous route to Sbepper- 
ton, where Mr. Gilfil had been for several months inducted as 
vicar. This small living had been given him through the interest 
of an old friend who had some claim on the gratitude of the 
Oldinport family ; and it was a satisfaction both to Maynard and 
Sir Christopher that a home to which he might take Caterina 
had thus readily presented itself at a distance from Cheverel 
Manor. For it had never yet been thought safe that she should 
revisit the scene of her sufferings, her health continuing too 
delicate to encourage the slightest risk of painful excitement. 
In a year or two, perhaps, by the time old Mr. Crichley, the 
rector of Cumbermoor, should have left a world of gout, and 
when Caterina would very likely be a happy mother, Maynard 
might safely take up his abode at Cumbermoor, and Tina would 
feel nothing but content at seeing a new * little black-eyed 
monkey' running up and down the gallery and gardens of the 
Manor. A mother dreads no memories — those shadows have all 
melted away in the dawn of baby's smile. 

In these hopes, and in the enjoyment of Tina's nestling affec- 
tion, Mr. Gilfil tasted a few months of perfect happiness. She 
had come to lean entirely on his love, and to find life sweet for 
his sake. Her continual languor and want of active interest was 
a natural consequence of bodily feebleness, and the prospect of 
her becoming a mother was a new ground for hoping the best. 

But the delicate plant had been too deeply bruised, and in the 
struggle to put forth a blossom it died. 

Tina died, and Maynard Gilfil's love went with her into deep 
silence for evermore. 



EPILOGUE 

This was Mr. GilfiFs love-story, which lay far back from the 
time when he sat, worn and grey, by his lonely fireside in 
Shepperton Vicarage. Rich brown locks, passionate love, and 
deep early sorrow, strangely different as they seem from the 
scanty white hairs, the apathetic content, and the unexpectant 
quiescence of old age, are but part of the same life's journey ; as 
the bright Italian plains, with the sweet Addio of their beckon- 
ing maidens, are part of the same day's travel that brings us to 
the other side of the mountain, between the sombre rocky walls 
and among the guttural voices of the Valais. 

To those who were familiar only with the grey-haired Vicar, 
jogging leisurely along on his old chestnut cob, it would perhaps 
have been hard to believe that he had ever been the Maynard 
Gilfil who, with a heart full of passion and tenderness, had urged 
his black Kitty to her swiftest gallop on the way to Callam, or 
that the old gentleman of caustic tongue, and bucolic tastes, and 
sparing habits, had known all the deep secrets of devoted love, 
had struggled through its days and nights of anguish, and 
trembled under its unspeakable joys. And indeed the Mr. Gilfil 
of those late Shepperton days had more of the knots and rugged- 
ness of poor human nature than there lay any clear hint of in the 
open-eyed loving Maynard. But it is with men as with trees : 
if you lop off their finest branches, into which they were pouring 
their young life-juice, the wounds will be healed over with some 
rough boss, some odd excrescence ; and what might have been a 
grand tree expanding into liberal shade is but a whimsical 
misshapen trunk. Many an irritating fault, many an unlovely 
oddity, has come of a hard sorrow, which has crushed and maimed 
the nature just when it was expanding into plenteous beauty ; 
and the trivial erring life, which we visit with our harsh blame, 
may be but as the unsteady motion of a man whose best limb is 
withered. 

And so the dear old Vicar, though he had something of the 

245 



24« SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

knottcii vhim^ical i^haracter of the poor lopped oak, had yet been 
?krt.'L*il «»ut by naturv as a nohle tree. The heart of him was 
s^KiinL i\.*' eraun was of the finest : and in the grey-haired man 
who lillol hi-i pocket with su^rar-plums for the little children, 
who?<» moet biting words were directed against the evil doing of 
the rich m^n, and who. with all his social pipes and slipshod talk, 
never sank Ulow the hiirhest level of his parishioners' respect, there 
was the main trunk uf the same brave, fisdthfal, tender nature, 
that had ponred out the finest^ freshest forces of its life-current 
in a fir^t and only love— the love of Tina. 



JANET'S BEPENTANCE 



247 



CHAPTER I 

* No ! ' said lawyer Dempster, in a loud, rasping, oratorical tone, 
struggling against chronic huskiness, * as long as my Maker grants 
me power of voice and power of intellect, I will take every legal 
means to resist the introduction of demoralising, methodistical 
doctrine into this parish ; I will not supinely suffer an insult to 
be inflicted on our venerable pastor, who has given us sound 
instruction for half a century.' 

It was very warm everywhere that evening, but especially in 
the bar of the Red Lion at Milby, where Mr. Dempster was 
seated mixing his third glass of brandy-and- water. He was a tall 
and rather massive man, and the front half of his large surface 
was so well dredged with snuff, that the cat, having inadvertently 
come near#him, had been seized with a severe fit of sneezing — an 
accident which, being cruelly misunderstood, had caused her to be 
driven contumeliously from the bar. Mr. Dempster habitually 
held his chin tucked in, and his head hanging forward, weighed 
down, perhaps, by a preponderant occiput and a bulging fore- 
head, between which his closely clipped coronal surface lay like a 
flat and new-mown tableland. The only other observable features 
were puflFjr cheeks and a protruding yet lipless mouth. Of his 
nose I can only say that it was snuffy ; and as Mr. Dempster was 
never caught in the act of looking at anything in particular, it 
would have been difficult to swear to the colour of his eyes. 

* Well ! Ill not stick at giving myself trouble to put down such 
hypocritical cant,' said Mr. Tomlinson, the rich miller. * I know 
well enough what your Sunday evening lectures are good for — for 
wenches to meet their sweethearts, and brew mischief. There's 
work enough with the servant-maids as it is — such as I never 
heard the like of in my mother's time, and it's all along o' your 
schooling and new-fangled plans. Give me a servant as can 
nayther read nor write, I say, and doesn't know the year o' the 
Lord as she was born in. I should like to know what good those 
Sunday schools have done, now. Why, the boys used to go a 

249 



250 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

bird's-nesting of a Sunday morning ; and a capital thing too — ask 
any farmer ; and very pretty it was to see the strings o' heggs 
hanging up in poor people's houses. You'll not see 'em nowhere now.' 

* Pooh ! ' said Mr. Luke Byles, who piqued himself on his 
reading, and was in the habit of asking casual acquaintances if 
they knew anything of Hobbes ; * it is right enough that the lower 
orders should be instructed. But this sectarianism within the 
Church ought to be put down. In point of fact, these Evangelicals 
are not Churchmen at all ; they're no better than Presbyterians.' 

' Presbyterians ? what are they ? ' inquired Mr. TomUnson, who 
often said his father had given him * no eddication, and he didn't 
care who knowed it ; he could buy up most o' th' eddicated men 
he'd ever come across.' 

* The Presbyterians,' said Mr. Dempster, in rather a louder tone 
than before, holding that every appeal for information must 
naturally be addressed to him, * are a sect founded in the reign of 
Charles I., by a man named John Presbyter, who hatched all the 
brood of Dissenting vermin that crawl about in dirty alleys, and 
circumvent the lord of the manor in order to get a few yards of 
ground for their pigeon-house conventicles.' 

*No, no, Dempster,' said Mr. Luke Byles, * you're out there. 
Presbyterianism is derived from the word presbyter, meaning an 
elderj 

'Don't contradict me^ sir!' stormed Dempster. *I say the 
word presbyterian is derived from John Presbyter, a miserable 
fanatic who wore a suit of leather, and went about from town to 
village, and from village to hamlet, inoculating the vulgar with 
the asinine virus of Dissent.'/ 

* Come, Byles, that seems a deal more likely,' said Mr. TomUn- 
son, in a conciliatory tone, apparently of opinion that history was 
a process of ingenious guessing. 

* It's not a question of likelihood ;- it's a known fact. I could 
fetch you my Encyclopaedia, and show it you this moment.' 

* I don't care a straw, sir, either for you or your Encyclopaedia,' 
said Mr. Dempster ; * a farrago of false information of which you 
picked up an imperfect copy in a cargo of waste paper. Will you 
tell me, sir, that I don't known the origin of Presbyterianism % 
I, sir, a man known through the county, intrusted with the 
affairs of half a score parishes ; while you, sir, are ignored by the 
very fleas that infest the miserable alley in which you were bred.' 

A loud and general laugh, with * You'd better let him alone, 
Byles ' ; * You'll not get the better of Dempster in a hurry,' 
drowned the retort of the too well-informed Mr. Byles, who, white 
with rage, rose and walked out of the bar. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 251 

^A meddlesome, upstart, Jacobinical fellow, gentlemen,' 
continued Mr. Dempster. * I was determined to be rid of him. 
What does he mean by thrusting himself into our company 1 A 
man with about as much principle as he has property, which, to 
my knowledge, is considerably less than none. An insolvent 
atheist, gentlemen. A deistical prater, fit to sit in the chimney- 
corner of a pot-house, and make blasphemous comments on the 
one greasy newspaper fingered by beer-swilling tinkers. I will not 
suffer in my company a man who speaks lightly of religion. The 
signature of a fellow like Byles would be a blot on our protest.' 

*And how do you get on with your signatures?' said Mr. 
Pilgrim, the doctor, who had presented his large top-booted person 
within the bar while Mr. Dempster was speaking. Mr. Pilgrim 
had just returned from one of his long day's rounds among the 
farmhouses, in the course of which he had sat down to two hearty 
meals that might have been mistaken for dinners if he had not 
declared them to be * snaps ' ; and as each snap had been followed 
by a few glasses of * mixture, ' containing a less liberal proportion 
of water than the articles he himself labelled with that broadly 
generic name, he was in that condition which his groom indicated 
with poetic ambiguity by saying that * master had been in the 
sunshine.' Under these circumstances, after a hard day, in which 
he had really had no regular meal, it seemed a natural relaxation 
to step into the bar of the Red Lion, where as it was Saturday 
evening, he should be sure to find Dempster, and hear the latest 
news about the protest against the evening lecture. 

' Have you hooked Ben Landor yet ? ' he continued, as he took 
two chairs, one for his body, and the other for his right leg. 

*No,' said Mr. Budd, the churchwarden, shaking his head; 
* Ben Landor has a way of keeping himself neutral in everything, 
and he doesn't like to oppose his father. Old Landor is a regular 
Tryanite. But we haven't got your name yet, Pilgrim.' 

*Tut tut, Budd,' said Mr. Dempster, sarcastically, *you don't 
expect Pilgrim to sign 1 He's got a dozen Tryanite livers under 
his treatment. Nothing like cant and methodism for producing a 
superfluity of bile.' 

* Oh, I thought, as Pratt had declared himself a Tryanite, we 
should be sure to get Pilgrim on our side.' 

Mr. Pilgrim was not a man to sit quiet under a sarcasm, 
nature having endowed him with a considerable share of self- 
defensive wit. In his most sober moments he had an impediment 
in his speech, and as copious gin-and- water stimulated not the 
speech but the impediment, he had time to make his retort 
sufficiently bitter. 



252 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Why, to tell you the tmth, Budd/ he spluttered, * there's a 
report all over the town that Deb Traunter swears you shall take 
her with you as one of the delegates, and they say there's to be a 
fine crowd at your door the morning you start, to see the row. 
Knowing your tenderness for that member of the fair sex, I thought 
you might find it impossible to deny her. I hsmg back a little 
from signing on that account, as Prendergast might not take the 
protest well if Deb Traunter went with you.' 

Mr. Budd was a small, sleek-headed bachelor of five-and-forty, 
whose scandalous life had long furnished his more moral neighbours 
with an after-dinner joke. He had no other striking characteristic, 
except that he was a currier of choleric temperament, so that you 
might wonder why he had been chosen as clergyman's church- 
warden, if I did not tell you that he had recently been elected 
through Mr. Dempster's exertions, in order that his zeal against 
the threatened evening lecture might be backed by the dignity of 
office. 

*Come, come, Pilgrim," said Mr. Tomlinson, covering Mr. 
Budd's retreat, * you know you like to wear the crier's coat, green 
o' one side and red o' the other. You've been to hear Tryan 
preach at Paddiford Common — ^you know you have.' 

* To be sure I have ; and a capital sermon too. It's a pity you 
were not there. It was addressed to those " void of understanding.'" 

* No no, you'll never catch me there,' returned Mr. Tomlinson, 
not in the least stung ; * he preaches without book, they say, just 
like a Dissenter. It must be a rambling sort of a concern.' 

* That's not the worst,' said Mr. Dempster; *he preaches 
against good works; says good works are not necessary to 
salvation — a sectarian, antinomian, anabaptist doctrine. Tell a 
man he is not to be saved by his works, and you open the flood- 
gates of all immorality. You see it in all these canting innovators ; 
they're all bad ones by the sly ; smooth-faced, drawling, 
hypocritical fellows, who pretend ginger isn't hot in their mouths, 
and cry down all innocent pleasures ; their hearts are all the 
blacker for their sanctimonious outsides. Haven't we been warned 
against those who make clean the outside of the cup and the 
platter? There's this Tryan, now, he goes about praying with 
old women, and singing with charity -children ; but what has he 
really got his eye on all the while? A domineering ambitious 
Jesuit, gentlemen ; all he wants is to get his foot far enough 
into the parish to step into Crewe's shoes when the old gentleman 
dies. Depend upon it, whenever you see a man pretending to be 
better than his neighbours, that man has either some cunning end 
to serve, or his heart is rotten with spiritual pride.' 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 253 

As if to guarantee himself against this awful sin, Mr. Dempster 
seized his glass of brandy -and -water, and tossed off the contents 
with even greater rapidity than usual. 

' Have you fixed on your third delegate yet 1 ' said Mr. Pilgrim, 
whose taste was for detail rather than for dissertation. 

'That's the man,' answered Dempster, pointing to Mr. 
Tomlinson. *We start for Elmstoke Rectory on Tuesday 
morning ; so, if you mean to give us your signature, you must 
make up your mind pretty quickly. Pilgrim.' 

Mr. Pilgrim did not in the least mean it, so he only said, ' I 
shouldn't wonder if Tryan turns out too many for you, after all. 
He's got a well-oiled tongue of his own, and has perhaps talked 
over Prendergast into a determination to stand by him.' 

* Ve-ry little fear of that,' said Dempster, in a confident tone. 
*I'll soon bring him j-ound. Tryan has got his match. I've 
plenty of rods in pickle for Tryan.' 

At this moment Boots entered the bar, and put a letter into 
the lawyer's hands, saying, * There's Trower's man just come into 
the yard wi' a gig, sir, an' he's brought this here letter.' 

Mr. Dempster read the letter and said, * Tell him to turn the 
gig — I'll be with him in a minute. Here, run to Gruby's and get 
this snuff-box filled — quick ! ' 

* Trower's worse, I suppose ; eh, Dempster ? Wants you to 
alter his will, eh 1 ' said Mr. Pilgrim. 

* Business — business — business — I don't know exactly what,' 
answered the cautious Dempster, rising deliberately from his chair, 
thrusting on his low-crowned hat, and walking with a slow but 
not unsteady step out of the bar. 

^ * I never see Dempster's equal ; if I did I'll be shot,' said Mr. 
Tomlinson, looking after the lawyer admiringly. *Why, he's 
drunk the best part of a bottle o' brandy since here we've been 
sitting, and, I'll bet a guinea, when he's got to Trower's his head 
'11 be as clear as mine. He knows more about law when he's 
drunk than all the rest on 'em when they're sober.' 

'Ay, and other things too, besides law,' said Mr. Budd. 'Did 
you notice how he took up Byles about the Presbyterians ? Bless 
your heart, he knows everything, Dempster does. He studied 
very hard when he was a young man.'^'^ 



1 



CHAPTER II 

-» 

The conversation just recorded is not, I am aware, remarkably 
refined or witty ; but if it had been, it could hardly have taken 
place in Milby when Mr. Dempster flourished there, and old Mr. 
Crewe, the curate, was yet alive. 

More than a quarter of a century ha^ slipped by since then, 
and in the interval Milby has advanced at as rapid a pace as 
other market -towns in her Majesty's dominions. By this time it 
has a handsome railway -station, where the drowsy London 
traveller may look out by the brilliant gas-light and see perfectly 
sober papas and husbands alighting with their leather-bags after 
transacting their day's business at the county town. There is a 
resident rector, who appeals to the consciences of his hearers with 
all the immense advantages of a divine who keeps his own carriage ; 
the church is enlarged by at least five hundred sittings ; and the 
grammar-school, conducted on reformed principles, has its upper 
forms crowded with the genteel youth of Milby. The gentlemen 
there fall into no other excess at dinner-parties than the perfectly 
well-bred and virtuous excess of stupidity ; and though the ladies 
are still said sometimes to take too much upon themselves, they 
are never known to take too much in any other way. The 
conversation is sometimes quite literary, for there is a flourishing 
book-club, and many of the younger ladies have carried their 
studies so far as to have forgotten a little German. In short, 
Milby is now a refined, moral, and enlightened town; no more 
resembling the Milby of former days than the huge, long-skirted, 
drab great-coat that embarrassed the ankles of our grandfathers 
resembled the light paletot in which we tread jauntily through the 
muddiest streets, or than the bottle-nosed Britons, rejoicing over a 
tankard in the old sign of the Two Travellers at Milby, resembled 
the severe-looking gentleman in straps and high collars whom a 
modern artist has represented as sipping the imaginary port of 
that well-known commercial house. 

But pray, reader, dismiss from yonr mind all the refined and 

254 




The tall Miss Fittvtans.—V. 258 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 257 

fashionable ideas associated with this advanced state of things, 
and transport your imagination to a time when Milby had no 
gas-lights ; when the mail drove up dusty or bespattered to the 
door of the Red Lion ; when old Mr. Crewe, the curate, in a 
brown Brutus wig, delivered inaudible sermons on a Sunday, and 
on a week-day imparted the education of a gentleman — that is to 
say, an arduous inacquaintance with Latin through the medium 
of the Eton Grammar — to three pupils in the upper grammar- 
schooL 

If you had passed through Milby on the coach at that time, you 
would have had no idea what important people lived there, and 
bow very high a sense of rank was prevalent among them. It 
was a dingy-looking town, with a strong smell of tanning up one 
street and a great shaking of hand-looms up another ; and even in 
that focus of aristocracy. Friar's Gate, the houses would not have 
seemed very imposing to the hasty and superficial glance of a 
passenger. You might still less have suspected that ihe figure in 
light fustian and large grey whiskers, leaning against the grocer's 
door-post in High Street, was no less a person than Mr. Lowme, one 
of the most aristocratic men in Milby, said to have been ' brought 
up a gentleman,' and to have had the gay habits accordant with 
that station, keeping his harriers and other expensive animals. 
He was now quite an elderly Lothario, reduced to the most 
economical sins ; the prominent form of his gaiety being this of 
lounging at Mr. Gruby's door, embarrassing the servant maids who 
came for grocery, and talking scandal with the rare passers-by. 
Still, it was generally understood that Mr. Lowme belonged to the 
highest circle of Milby society; his sons and daughters hel ^ up their 
beads very high indeed ; and in spite of his condescending way of 
chatting and drinking with inferior people, he would himself have 
scorned any closer identification with them. It must be admitted 
that he was of some service to the town in this station at Mr. 
Gruby's door, for he and Mr. Landor's Newfoundland dog, who 
stretched himself and gaped on the opposite causeA\ay, took 
something from, the lifeless air that belonged to the High Street 
on every day except Saturday. 

Certainly, in spite of three assemblies and a charity ball in the 
winter, the occasional advent of a ventriloquist, or a company of 
itinerant players, some of whom were very highly thought of in 
London, and the annual three-days' fair in June, Milby might be 
considered dull by people of a hypochondriacal temperament ; and 
perhaps this was one reason why many of the middle-aged 
inhabitants, male and female, often found it impossible to keej^ 
up their spirits without a very abundant supply of stimulants. 

s 



258 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

It is true there were several substantial men who had a reputation 
for exceptional sobriety, so that Milby habits were really not as 
bad as possible ; and no one is warranted in saying that old Mr. 
Crewe's flock could not have been worse without any clergyman 
at all. 

The well-dressed parishioners generally were very regular 
church-goers, and to the younger ladies and gentlemen I am 
inclined to think that the Sunday morning service was the most 
exciting event of the week ; for few places could present a more 
brilliant show of out-door toilettes than might be seen issuing 
from Milby church at one o'clock. There were the four tall Miss 
Pittmaus, old lawyer Pittman's daughters, with cannon curls 
surmounted by large hats, and long, drooping ostrich feathers of 
parrot green. There was Miss Phipps, with a crimson bonnet, 
very much tilted up behind, and a cockade of stiff feathers on the 
summit. There was Miss Landor, the belle of Milby, clad regally 
in purple and ermine, with a plume of feathers neither drooping 
nor erect, but maintaining a discreet medium. There were the 
three Miss Tomlinsons, who imitated Miss Landor, and also wore 
ermine and feathers ; but their beauty was considered of a coarse 
order, and their square forms were quite unsuited to the round 
tippet which fell with such remarkable grace on Miss Landor's 
sloping shoulders. Looking at this plumed procession of ladies, 
you would have formed rather a high idea of Milby wealth ; yet 
there was only one close carriage in the place, and that was old 
Mr. Landor's, the banker, who, I think, never drove more than 
one horse. These sumptuously attired ladies flashed past the 
vulgar eye in one-horse chaises, by no means of a superior build. 

The young gentlemen, too, were not without their little Sunday 
displays of costume, of a limited masculine kind. Mr. Eustace 
Landor, being nearly of age, had recently acquired a diamond ring, 
together with the habit of rubbing his hand through his hair. 
He was tall and dark and thus had an advantage which Mr Alfred 
Phipps, who, like his sister, was blond and stumpy, found it difficult 
to overtake, even by the severest attention to shirt-studs, and the 
})articular shade of brown that was best relieved by gilt buttons. 

The respect for the Sabbath, manifested in this attention to 
costume, was unhappily counterbalanced by considerable levity of 
behaviour during the prayers and sermon ; for the young ladies 
and gentlemen of Milby were of a very satirical turn. Miss Landor 
especially being considered remarkably clever, and a terrible quiz : 
and the large congregation necessarily containing many persons 
inferior in dress and demeanour to the distinguished aristocratic 
minority, divine service offered irresistible temptations to joking, 



1 




1 

1 

1 

: 










1 



I ,ll 




f ivith a titter to handsome Mr. Bob Lowvie 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 261 

through the medium of telegraphic communications from the 
galleries to the aisles and back again. I remember blushing very- 
much, and thinking Miss Landor was laughing at me, because I 
was appearing in coat-tails for the first time, when I saw her look 
down slyly towards where I sat, and then turn with a titter to 
handsome Mr. Bob Lowme, who had such beautiful whiskers 
meeting under his chin. But perhaps she was not thinking of 
me, after all ; for our pew was near the pulpit, and there was 
almost always something funny about old Mr. Crewe. His brown 
wig was hardly ever put on quite right, and he had a way of 
raising his voice for three or four words, and lowering it again to 
a mumble, so that we could scarcely make out a word he said ; 
though, as my mother observed, that was of no consequence in the 
prayers, since every one had a prayer-book ; and as for the sermon, 
she continued with some causticity, we all of us heard more of it 
than we could remember when we got home. 

This youthful generation was not particularly literary. The 
young ladies who frizzed their hair, and gathered it all into large 
barricades in front of their heads, leaving their occipital region 
exposed without ornament, as if that, being a back view, was of 
no consequence, dreamed as little that their daughters would read a 
selection of German poetry, and be able to express an admiration 
for Schiller, as that they would turn all their hair the other 
way — that instead of threatening us with barricades in front, 
they would be most killing in retreat. 

And, like the Parthian, wound us as they fly. 

Those charming well -frizzed ladies spoke French indeed with 
considerable facility, unshackled by any timid regard to idiom, 
and were in the habit of conducting conversations in that language 
in the presence of their less instructed elders ; for according to the 
standard of those backward days, their education had been very 
lavish, such young ladies as Miss Landor, Miss Phipps, and the 
Miss Pittmans, having been * finished' at distant and expensive 
schools. 

Old lawyer Pittman had once been a very important person 
indeed, having in his earlier days managed the affairs of several 
gentlemen in those parts, who had subsequently been obliged to 
sell everything and leave the country, in which crisis Mr. Pittman 
accommodatingly stepped in as a purchaser of their estates, taking 
on himself the risk and trouble of a more leisurely sale ; which, 
however, happened to turn out very much to his advantage. 
Such opportunities occur quite unexpectedly in the way of 
business. But I think Mr. Pittman must have been unlucky in 



262 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

his later speculations, for now, in his old age, he had not the 
reputation of being very rich ; and though he rode slowly to his 
office in Milby every morning on an old white hackney, he had to 
resign the chief profits, as well as the active business of the firm, to 
his younger partner, Dempster. No one in Milby considered old 
Pittman a virtuous man, and the elder townspeople were not at 
all backward in narrating the least advantageous portions of his 
biography in a very round unvarnished manner. Yet I could 
never observe that they tnisted him any the less, or liked him 
any the worse. Indeed, Pittman and Dempster were the popular 
lawyers of Milby and its neighbourhood, and Mr. Benjamin 
Landor, whom no one had anything particular to say against, had 
a very meagre business in comparison. Hardly a landholder, 
hardly a farmer, hardly a parish within ten miles of Milby, whose 
affairs were not under the legal guardianship of Pittman and 
Dempster ; and I think the clients were proud of their lawyers' 
unscrupulousness, as the patrons of the fancy are proud of their 
champion's 'condition.' It was not, to be sure, the thing for 
ordinary life, but it was the thing to be bet on in a lawyer. 
Dempster's talent in * bringing through' a client was a very 
common topic of conversation with the farmers, over an incidental 
glass of grog at the Red Lion. *He's a long-headed feller, 
Dempster ; why, it shows yer what a headpiece Dempster has, 
as he can drink a bottle o' brandy at a sittin', an' yit see further 
through a stone wall when he's done, than other folks '11 see 
through a glass winder.' Even Mr. Jerome, chief member of the 
congregation at Salem Chapel, an elderly man of very strict life, 
was one of Dempster's clients, and had quite an exceptional 
indulgence for his attorney's foibles, perhaps attributing them to 
the inevitable incompatibility of law and gospel.^ 

The standard of morality at Milby, you perceive, was not 
inconveniently high in those good old times, and an ingenuous 
vice or two was what every man expected of his neighbour. 
Old Mr. Crewe, the curate, for example, was allowed to enjoy his 
avarice in comfort, without fear of sarcastic parish demagogues ; 
and his flock liked him all the better for having scraped together 
a large fortune out of his school and curacy, and the proceeds of 
the three thousand pounds he had with his little deaf wife. It 
was clear he must be a learned man, for he had once had a large 
private school in connection with the grammar-school, and had 
even numbered a young nobleman or two among his pupils. The 
fact that he read nothing at all now, and that his mind seemed 
absorbed in the commonest matters, was doubtless due to his 
having exhausted the resources of erudition earlier in life. It is 




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Mr. ruuii m v(Ac into Miil \ o\ 



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.•» - .ur. . < ( f tTJiditi.'" oarlirr in life. T; 




Mr. Pittman rode into Milby every morning. 



1 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 263 

true he was not spoken of in terms of high respect, and old 
Crewe's stingy housekeeping was a frequent subject of jesting ; 
but this was a good old-fashioned characteristic in a parson who 
had been part of Milby life for half a century : it was like the 
dents and disfigurements in an old- family tankard, which no one 
would like to part with for a smart new piece of plate fresh 
from Birmingham. The parishioners saw no reason at all why it 
should be desirable to venerate the parson or any one else : they 
were much more comfortable to look down a little on their 
fellow-creatures. 

Even the Dissent in Milby was then of a lax and indifferent 
kind. The doctrine of adult baptism, struggHng under a heavy 
load of debt, had let off half its chapel area as a ribbon-shop ; 
and Methodism was only to be detected, as you detect curious 
larvae, by diligent search in dirty corners. The Independents 
were the only Dissenters of whose existence Milby gentility was 
at all conscious, and it had a vague idea that the salient points 
of their creed were prayer without book, red brick, and hypocrisy. 
The Independent chapel, known as Salem, stood red and 
conspicuous in a broad street; more than one pew-holder kept 
a brass-bound gig ; and Mr. Jerome, a retired corn-factor, and the 
most eminent member of the congregation, was one of the richest 
men in the parish. But in spite of this apparent prosperity, 
together with the usual amount of extemporaneous preaching 
mitigated by furtive notes, Salem belied its name, and was not 
always the abode of peace. For some reason or other, it was 
unfortunate in the choice of its ministers. The Rev. Mr. Horner, 
elected with brilliant hopes, was discovered to be given to tippling 
and quarrelling with his wife ; the Rev. Mr. Rose's doctrine was 
a little too * high,' verging on antinomianism ; the Rev. Mr. 
Stickney's gift as a preacher was found to be less striking on 
a more extended acquaintance ; and the Rev. Mr. Smith, a 
distinguished minister much sought after in the iron districts, with 
a talent for poetry, became objectionable from an inclination to 
exchange verses with the young ladies of his congregation. It 
was reasonably argued that such verses as Mr. Smith's must take 
a long time for their composition, and the habit alluded to 
might intrench seriously on his pastoral duties. These reverend 
gentlemen, one and all, gave it as their opinion that the Salem 
church members were among the least enlightened of the Lord's 
people, and that Milby was a low place, where they would have 
found it a severe lot to have their lines fall for any long period ; 
though to see the smart and crowded congregation assembled on 
occasion of the annual charity sermon, any one might have 



264 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

supposed that the minister of Salem had rather a brilliant position 
in the ranks of Dissent. Several Church families used to attend 
on that occasion, for Milby, in those uninstructed days, had not 
yet heard that the schismatic ministers of Salem were obviously 
typified by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram ; and many Church 
people there were of opinion that Dissent might be a weakness, 
but, after all, had no great harm in it. These lax Episcopalians 
were, I believe, chiefly tradespeople, who held that, inasmuch as 
Congregationalism consumed candles, it ought to be supported, 
and accordingly made a point of presenting themselves at Salem 
for the afternoon charity sermon, with the expectation of being 
asked to hold a plate. Mr. Pilgrim, too, wjis always there with 
his half-sovereign ; for, as there was no Dissenting doctor in Milby, 
Mr. Pilgrim looked with great tolerance on all shades of religious 
opinion that did not include a belief in cures by miracle. 

On this point he had the concurrence of Mr. Pratt, the only 
other medical man of the same standing in Milby. Otherwise, 
it was remarkable how strongly these two clever men were 
contrasted. Pratt was middle-sized, insinuating, and silvery- 
voiced ; Pilgrim was tall, heavy, rough-mannered, and spluttering. 
Both were considered to have great powers of conversation, but 
Pratt's anecdotes were of the fine old crusted quality to be procured 
only of Joe Miller ; Pilgrim's had the full fruity flavour of the 
most recent scandal. Pratt elegantly referred all diseases to 
debility, and, with a proper contempt for symptomatic treatment, 
went to the root of the matter with port-wine and bark ; Pilgrim 
was persuaded that the evil principle in the human system was 
plethora, and he made war against it with cupping, blistering, and 
cathartics. They had both been long established in Milby, and 
as each had a sufiicient practice, there was no very malignant 
rivalry between them ; on the contrary, they had that sort of 
friendly contempt for each other which is always conducive to a 
good understanding between professional men ; and when any new 
surgeon attempted, in an ill-advised hour, to settle himself in the 
town, it was strikingly demonstrated how slight and trivial are 
theoretic differences compared with the broad basis of common 
human feeling. There was the most perfect unanimity between 
Pratt and Pilgrim in the determination to drive away the 
abnoxious and too probably unqualified intruder as soon as 
possible. Whether the first wonderful cure he effected was on a 
patient of Pratt's or of Pilgrim's, one was as ready as the other to 
pull the interloper by the nose, and both alike directed their 
remarkable powers of conversation towards making the town too 
hot for him. But by their respective patients these two dis- 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 265 

tinguished men were pitted against each other with great virulence. 
Mrs. Lowme could not conceal her amazement that Mrs. Phipps 
should trust her life in the hands of Pratt, who let her feed herself 
up to that degree, it was really shocking to hear how short her 
breath was ; and Mrs. Phipps had no patience with Mrs. Lowme, 
living, as she did, on tea and broth, and looking as yellow as any 
crow-flower, and yet letting Pilgrim bleed and blister her and give 
her lowering medicine till her clothes hung on her like a scarecrow's. 
On the whole, perhaps, Mr. Pilgrim's reputation was at the higher 
pitch, and when any lady under Mr. Pratt's care was doin^ ill, she 
was half disposed to think that a little more * active treatment ' 
might suit her better. But without very definite provocation no 
one would take so serious a step as to part with the family doctor, 
for in those remote days there were few varieties of human hatred 
more formidable than the medical. The doctor's estimate, even of 
a confiding patient, was apt to rise and fall with the entries in the 
day-book ; and I have known Mr. Pilgrim discover the most 
unexpected virtues in a patient seized with a promising illness. 
At such times you might have been glad to perceive that there 
were some of Mr. Pilgrim's fellow-creatures of whom he entertained 
a high opinion, and that he was liable to the amiable weakness 
of a too admiring estimate. A good inflammation fired his 
enthusiasm, and a lingering dropsy dissolved him into charity. 
Doubtless this crescendo of benevolence was partly due to feelings 
not at all represented by the entries in the day-book ; for in Mr. 
Pilgrim's heart, too, there was a latent store of tenderness and 
pity which flowed forth at the sight of suffering. Gradually, 
however, as his patients became convalescent, his view of their 
characters became more dispassionate; when they could relish 
mutton-chops, he began to admit that they had foibles, and by the 
time they had swallowed their last dose of tonic, he was alive to 
their most inexcusable faults. After this, the thermometer of his 
regard rested at the moderate point of friendly backbiting, which 
sufficed to make him agreeable in his morning visits to the 
amiable and worthy persons who were yet far from convalescent. 

Pratt's patients were profoundly uninteresting to Pilgrim : 
their very diseases were despicable, and he would hardly have 
thought their bodies worth dissecting. But of all Pratt's patients, 
Mr. Jerome was the one on whom Mr. Pilgrim heaped the 
most unmitigated contempt. In spite of the surgeon's wise 
tolerance. Dissent became odious to him in the person of Mr. 
Jerome. Perhaps it was because that old gentleman, being rich, 
and having very large yearly bills for medical attendance on 
himself and his wife, nevertheless employed Pratt — neglected all 



266 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the advantages of 'active treatment,' and paid away his money 
without getting his system lowered. On any other ground it is 
hard to explain a feeling of hostility to Mr. Jerome, who was an 
excellent old gentleman, expressing a great deal of goodwill to- 
wards his neighbours, not only in imperfect English, but in loans 
of money to the ostensibly rich, and in sacks of potatoes to the 
obviously poor. 

Assuredly Milby had that salt of goodness which keeps the 
world together, in greater abundance than was visible on the 
surface : innocent babes were born there, sweetening their parents' 
hearts with simple joys ; men and women withering in disappointed 
worldliness, or bloated with sensual ease, had better moments in 
which they pressed the hand of sufi'ering with sympathy, and were 
moved to deeds of neighbourly kindness. In church and in chapel 
there were honest -hearted worshippers who strove to keep a 
conscience void of offence ; and even up the dimmest alleys you 
might have found here and there a Wesleyan to whom Methodism 
was the vehicle of peace on earth and goodwill to men. To a 
superficial glance, Milby was nothing but dreary prose : a dingy 
town, surrounded by flat fields, lopped elms, and sprawling 
manufacturing villages, which crept on and on with their weaving- 
shops, till they threatened to graft themselves on the town. But 
the sweet spring came to Milby notwithstanding : the elm-tops 
were red with buds ; the churchyard was starred with daisies ; 
the lark showered his love-music on the flat fields ; the rainbows 
hung over the dingy town, clothing the very roofs and chimneys 
in a strange transfiguring beauty. And so it was with the human 
life there, which at first seemed a dismal mixture of griping 
worldliness, vanity, ostrich-feathers, and the fumes of brandy : 
looking closer, you found some purity, gentleness, and unselfishness, 
as you may have observed a scented geranium giving forth its 
wholesome odours amidst blasphemy and gin in a noisy pot-house. 
Little deaf Mrs. Crewe would often carry half her own spare 
dinner to the sick and hungry ; Miss Phipps, with her cockade of 
red feathers, had a filial heart, and lighted her father's pipe with 
a pleasant smile ; and there were grey-haired men in drab gaiters, 
not at all noticeable as you passed them in the street, whose 
integrity had been the basis of their rich neighbour's wealth. 

Such as the place was, the people there were entirely contented 
with it. They fancied life must be but a dull affair for that large 
portion of mankind who were necessarily shut out from an acquaint- 
ance with Milby families, and that it must be an advantage to 
London and Liverpool that Milby gentlemen occasionally visited 
those places on business. But the inhabitants became more intensely 



^ i 



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k^x\'',/ •:. 



'■ ./fr sr ' 



' i 







*3!ip»r. 



J, '.-f i ;'~'"'v*f , 



Li^'liU"! Irt fa' !ut"s i>i]X'. 



^^ ES\.> Ol • lAVU AL l.iFK 

' ^i- >^ 'tt 11 Im\\< ri-.l. Oil a'ly nhni' irr.,n]iii i ;. 

• • .'. •♦ i\-Mi!^ 'M' ij..vi)iitv \i\ Mv. ,1, nni,r, v.ii-* \vi- • • 

;• .!.J -.1 . <, >i r Miily in ini]»'! tVct Ki'l'I'-Iu. I'UT lu I':-,*.- 
• N I •: «• ••-'. iK-ii)iv ri h, u'kI in sjick> vt' i»ntuto»ri t" :* • 

i -.•.■'.\ ^l i'-y li.t'l tli-'t silt nf iTnddTM.ss wliich keeps ti-.' 
. •• • M. ill Ln\' i^-r ;'ii.m'l;i!n-(» th;i!i was visible t»i. tis.- 

• l»:ib:< uero l>cni there, <\ve( t.-iiin«^ ilieir pi.rrnr- 

.'. 1. I*!' I'lys: nn'ij Mii'l \V"Mien vi'l '"riiii; in <li>a])]>«»ii r» .! 

•••• .• . .itiMl ,\it}i .^♦■ii.-i'.al tuM", 'lad better ni()iJieiit> i . 

V J • -"l ill" i'.iinl ft* sut^irintx with sympathy; ami wvr. 

•• ■ «• . .v ,,,' ]M'i^hlM)urly kiii«bi»^s>. In eliinvb and in <-h-.i})' ! 

• !..;'< r lii-aitul \voivhi])iM-i> who strove to kee]> a 

• « • i "{' .,:i'n.» : and even up the diinine>t a]i(y>^y.»u 

' ."1 Im'H' ami there a \Vt'si.y<in to wh(»ni Mi'tliodi^in 

• ' r «'f jM'-Tc i.n <'arth and wudwill to men. Tf a 

■ .' •. .Mie, Miiby wa-^ nothin.'^ luit di'eary prose : a dinny 

• .)'.••'• bv flat fields, lop])»-d elms, and f-prawUni, 
•■■ *. \ iilairr-. \Mii< }i rr.'|)t nn and on with tlieir weavinj- 

\' il n.ir«'!ii.l to ..'•lat't tliem^elveh on tlie town. fli;t 

• •' ^- 'anrr to Mil'oy n<jtwit]i.^tai.din.i^ : the elm-t^op^ 

>• i bi.ds ; tin eliureliyanl was starred with d-ii.vie.- ; 

A.'r«*<l his lovt-inusie on th<' flat tit-l'ls ; the rainbf»v. • 

i-H- dii'jv town, elnthin;: tlie very roof-; and ehi'mi^y.^ 

:• •♦• n'iij,4i M.iiej- oviuty. And so it was witli tlie hiirnan 

" t», wli!.'' It lirvt st.iieil a dismal nrixture «'t' ,t,q'i}>inj 

•• • ■.•.!.( -s, A,i-';-v, ostru h-leaihers, and the f'lmes of l>raii«iy 

.1 "•!" . r \<-r, toll. id some | unity, i^ontlenesN and unselfish ue--^. 
.• % 'i nil} hiv«' .)h>('rved a >e*'nted ^iVMnium giving forth i: 
\* ■ I.' . : ' '.'!.'. urs ; miiist ]»la^|»hen'V and iiin in a noisy pot-lioiiM* 
'.:.' !.!./■ '♦!:-. ('wwv wo'jM otttn earry half her own ^pus' 
.'iiiiiM !"■ il.. -. 'x iiii'l hunirry ; ^Ii<s I'hipps, with her eoekado <•: 
r( d !•■: . .' •, 1 .'• a filial heart, an.l liu:hted hrr fether's pi})e wjpi 
a ]ji. •,-.!'. i .'( . a'ld Ihere w»-re LH'ey -haired mt»n in dra]> gaiter^- 
n.-t ■' ;.i' >, »ii.-»ai<i." a- you [)a.-N('d them in the street, wlic-. 
iii '•'% liad bet'n th»' basis of tlnir rieji nei.irhbourV wealth. 

."'ii' il as rlu- place was, tht^ p(H)j)le there were eniirely eonteiit* d 
•A .:'. il. T'. y fancied life nuist be i>ut a dull atfjiir for tliat hir^t* 
; I ..It oi mankind who were neetssarily shut (Uit from an ae<iija.iit- 
.. •• with Miiby funilies, and that it must be an advnntair» t-- 
i.-' a and Liverpool t!iat Mdby irentlemen vH'easionally v' ».-.: 
..:■>..> j,la'-(..^on bu^im-s.^. lint the inhabitants became more inten- "^ 



1 




Lighted her father's pipe. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 267 

conscious of the value they set upon all their advantages, when 
innovation made its appearance in the person of the Rev. Mr. Tryan, 
the new curate, at the chapel-of-ease on Paddiford Common. It was 
soon notorious in Milby that Mr. Tryan held peculiar opinions ; that 
he preached extempore ; that he was founding a religious lending 
library in his remote corner of the parish ; that he expounded the 
Scriptures in cottages ; and that his preaching was attracting the 
Dissenters, and filling the very aisles of his church. The rumour 
sprang up that Evangelicalism had invaded Milby parish — a 
murrain or blight all the more terrible, because its nature was but 
dimly conjectured. Perhaps Milby was one of the last spots to be 
reached by the wave of a new movement ; and it was only now, 
when the tide was just on the turn, that the limpets there got a 
sprinkling. Mr. Tryan was the first Evangelical clergyman who 
had risen above the Milby horizon : hitherto that obnoxious 
adjective had been unknown to the townspeople of any gentility ; 
and there were even many Dissenters who considered * evangelical' 
simply a sort of baptismal name to the magazine which circulated 
among the congregation of Salem Chapel. But now, at length, 
the disease had been imported, when the parishioners were 
expecting it as little as the innocent Red Indians expected small- 
pox. As long as Mr. Tryan's hearers were confined to Paddiford 
Common — which, by the by, was hardly recognisable as a common 
at all, but was a dismal district where you heard the rattle of the 
handloom, and breathed the smoke of coal-pits — the * canting 
parson ' could be treated as a joke. Not so when a number of 
single ladies in the town appeared to be infected, and even one or 
two men of substantial property, with old Mr. Landor, the banker, 
at their head, seemed to be 'giving in' to the new movement — 
when Mr. Tryan was known to be well received in several good 
houses, where he was in the habit of finishing the evening with 
exhortation and prayer. Evangelicalism was no longer a nuisance 
existing merely in by-corners, which any well-clad person could 
avoid ; it was invading the very drawing-rooms, mingling itself 
with the comfortable fumes of i)ort-wine and brandy, threatening 
to deaden with its murky breath all the splendour of the ostrich- 
feathers, and to stifle Milby ingenuousness, not pretending to be 
better than its neighbours, with a cloud of cant and lugubrious 
hypocrisy. \,The alarm reached its climax when it was reported 
that Mr. Tryan was endeavouring to obtain authority from Mr. 
Prendergast, the non-resident rector, to establish a Sunday evening 
lecture in the parish church, on the ground that old Mr. Crewe 
did not preach the Gospel. 

It now first appeared how surprisingly high a value Milby in 



268 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

general set on the ministrations of Mr. Crewe ; how convinced it 
was that Mr. Crewe was the model of a parish priest, and his 
sermons the soundest and most edifying that had ever remained 
unheard by a church-going population. All allusions to his brown 
wig were suppressed, and by a rhetorical figure his name was 
associated with venerable grey hairs ; the attempted intrusion of 
Mr. Tryan was an insult to a man deep in years and learning ; 
moreover, it was an insolent effort to thrust himself forward in a 
parish where he was clearly distasteful to the superior portion of 
its inhabitants. I. The town was divided into two zealous parties, 
the Tiyanites and anti-Tryanites ; and by the exertions of the 
eloquent Dempster, the anti-Tryanite virulence was soon developed 
into an organised opposition. A protest against the meditated 
evening lecture was framed by that orthodox attorney, and, after 
being numerously signed, was to be carried to Mr. Prendergast by 
three delegates representing the intellect, morality, and wealth of 
Milby. The intellect, you perceive, was to be personified in Mr. 
Dempster, the morality in Mr. Budd, and the wealth in Mr. 
Tomlinson ; and the distinguished triad was to set out on its great 
mission, as we have seen, on the third day from that warm 
Saturday evening when the conversation recorded in the previous 
chapter took place in the bar of the Red Lion. 



CHAPTER III 

It was quite as warm on the following Thursday evening, when 
Mr. Dempster and his colleagues were to return from their mission 
to Elmstoke Rectory ; but it was much pleasanter in Mrs. Linnet's 
parlour than in the bar of the Red Lion. Through the open 
window came the scent of mignonette and honeysuckle ; the grass- 
plot in front of the house was shaded by a little plantation of 
Gueldres roses, syringas, and laburnums : the noise of looms and 
carts and unmelodioiis voices reached the ear simply as an agreeable 
murmur, for Mrs. Linnet's house was situated quite on the 
outskirts of Paddiford Common ; and the only sound likely to 
disturb the serenity of the feminine party assembled there, was 
the occasional buzz of intrusive wasps, apparently mistaking each 
lady's head for a sugar-basin. No sugar-basin was visible in Mrs. 
Linnet's parlour, for the time of tea was not yet, and the round 
table was littered with books which the ladies were covering with 
black canvas as a reinforcement of the new Paddiford Lending 
Library. Miss Linnet, whose manuscript was the neatest type 
of zigzag, was seated at a small table apart, writing on green 
paper tickets, which were to be^ pasted on the covers. Miss 
Linnet had other accomplishments besides that of a neat manu- 
script, and an index to some of them might be found in the 
ornaments of the room. She had always combined a love of 
serious and poetical reading with her skill in fancy-work, and the 
neatly bound copies of Dryden's Virgil, Hannah More's Sacred 
Dramas, Falconer's Shipioreck, Mason On Self-Knoivledye, 
Basselas, and Burke On the Sublime and Beautiful, which 
were the chief ornaments of the bookcase, were all inscribed with 
her name, and had been bought with htr pocket-money when she 
was in her teens. It must have been at least fifteen years since 
the latest of those purchases, but Miss Linnet's skill in fancy-work 
appeared to have gone through more numerous phases than her 
literary taste ; • for the japanned boxes, the alum and sealing-wax 
baskets, the fan-dolls, the * transferred ' landscapes on the fire- 

269 



270 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

screens, and the recent bouquets of wax-flowers, showed a disparity 
in freshness which made them referable to widely different periods. 
Wax-flowers presuppose delicate fingers and robust patience, but 
there are still many points of mind and person which they leave 
vague and problematic ; so I must tell you that Miss Linnet had 
dark ringlets, a sallow complexion, and an amiable disposition. 
As to her features, there was not much to criticise in them, for 
she had little nose, less lip, and no eyebrow ; and as to her 
intellect, her friend Mrs. Pettifer often said : * She didn't know a 
more sensible person to talk to than Mary Linnet. There was no 
one she likeil better to come and take a quiet cup of tea with her, 
and rea<l a little of Klopstock's Messiah. Mary Linnet had often 
told her a great deal of her mind when they were sitting together ; 
she said there were many things to bear in every condition of life, 
and nothing should induce her to marry without a prospect of 
happiness. Once, when Mrs. Pettifer admired her wax-flowers, she 
said, " Ah, Mrs. Pettifer, think of the beauties of nature ! " She 
always si)oke very prettily, did Mary Linnet; very different, 
indeed, from Rebecca.' 

Miss Rebecca Linnet, indeed, was not a general favourite. 
While most people thought it a pity that a sensible woman like 
Mary had not found a good husband — and even her female friends 
said nothing more ill-natured of her, than that her face was like 
a piece of putty with two Scotch pebbles stuck in it — Rebecca 
was always spoken of sarcastically, and it was a customary kind 
of banter with young ladies to recommend her as a wife to any 
gentleman they happened to be flirting with — her fat, her finery, 
and her thick ankles sufficing to give piquancy to the joke ; 
notwithstanding the absence of novelty. Miss Rebecca, however, 
possessed the accomplishment of music, and her singing of *0h 
no, we never mention her,' and 'The Soldier's Tear,' was so 
desirable an accession to the pleasures of a tea-party that no one 
cared to offend her, especially as Rebecca had a high spirit of her 
own, and in spite of her expansively rounded contour, had a 
particularly sharp tongue. Her reading had been more extensive 
than her sister's, embracing most of the fiction in Mr. Procter's 
circulating library ; and nothing but an acquaintance with the 
course of her studies could afford a clue to the rapid transitions in 
her dress, which were suggested by the style of beauty, whether 
sentimental, sprightly, or severe, possessed by the heroine of the 
three volumes actually in perusal. A piece of lace, which drooped 
round the edge of her white bonnet one week, had been rejected 
by the next; and her cheeks, which, on Whitsunday, loomed 
through a Turnerian haze of network, were, on Trinity Sunday, 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 271 

seen reposing in distinct red outline on her shelving bust, like 
the sun on a fog-bank. The black velvet, meeting with a crystal 
clasp, which one evening encircled her head, had on another 
descended to her neck, and on a third to her wrist, suggesting 
to an active imagination either a magical contraction of the 
ornament, or a fearful ratio of expansion in Miss Rebecca's person. 
With this constant application of art to dress, she could have had 
little time for fancy-work, even if she had not been destitute 
of her sister's taste for that delightful and truly feminine 
occupation. And here, at least, you perceive the justice of the 
Milby opinion as to the relative suitability of the two Miss 
Linnets for matrimony. When a man is happy enough to win 
the affections of a sweet girl, who can soothe his cares with 
crochet, and respond to all his most cherished ideas with beaded 
urn-rugs and chair-covers in German wool, he has, at least, a 
guarantee of domestic comfort, whatever trials may await him 
out of doors. What a resource it is under fatigue and irritation 
to have your drawing-room well supplied with small mats, which 
would always be ready if you ever wanted to set anything on 
them ! And what styptic for a bleeding heart can equal copious 
squares of crochet, which are useful for slipping down the moment 
you touch them 1 How our fathers managed^without crochet is 
the wonder; but I believe some small and feeble substitute 
existed in their time under the name of * tatting.' Rebecca 
Linnet, however, had neglected tatting as well as other forms of 
fancy-work. At school, to be sure, she had spent a great deal of 
time in acquiring flower -painting, according to the ingenious 
method then fashionable, of applying the shapes of leaves and 
flowers cut out in cardboard, and scrubbing a brush over the 
surface thus conveniently marked out ; but even the spill-cases 
and hand-sereens which were her last half-year's performances 
in that way were not considered eminently successful, and had 
long been consigned to the retirement of the best bedroom. Thus 
there was a good deal of family unlikeness between Rebecca and 
her sister, and I am afraid there was also a little family dislike ; 
but Mary's disapproval had usually been kept imprisoned behind 
her thin lips, for Rebecca was not only of a headstrong disposition, 
but was her mother's pet ; the old lady being herself stout, and 
preferring a more showy style of cap than she could prevail on 
her daughter Mary to make up for her. 

But I have been describing Miss Rebecca as she was in former 
days only, for her appearance this evening, as she sits pasting on 
the green tickets, is in striking contrast with what it was three or 
four months ago. Her plain grey gingham dress and plain white 



272 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

collar could never have belonged to her wardrobe before that date ; 
and though she is not reduced in size, and her brown hair will do 
nothing but hang in crisp ringlets down her large cheeks, there is 
a change in her air and expression which seems to shed a softened 
light over her person, and make her look like a peony in the 
shade, instead of the same flower flaunting in a parterre in the 
hot sunlight. 

No one could deny that Evangelicalism had wrought a change 
for the better in Rebecca Linnet's person — not even Miss Pratt, 
the thin stiff lady in spectacles, seated opposite to her, who 
always had a peculiar repulsion for * females with a gross habit of 
body/ Miss Pratt was an old maid ; but that is a no more 
definite description than if I had said she was in the autumn of life. 
Was it autumn when the orchards are fragrant with apples, or 
autumn when the oaks are brown, or autumn when the last 
yellow leaves are fluttering in the chill breeze? The young 
ladies in Milby would have told you that the Miss Linnets were 
old maids ; but the Miss Linnets were to Miss Pratt what the 
apple -scented September is to the bare, nipping days of late 
November. The Miss Linnets were in that temperate zone 
of old-maidism, when a woman will not say but that if a man of 
suitable years and character were to oflPer himself, she might be 
induced to tread 4:he remainder of life's vale in company with him ; 
Miss Pratt was in that arctic region where a woman is confident 
that at no time of life would she have consented to give up her 
liberty, and that she has never seen the man whom she would 
engage to honour and obey. If the Miss Linnets were old maids, 
they were old maids with natural ringlets and embonpoint, not to 
say obesity ; Miss Pratt was an old maid with a cap, a braided 
'front,' a backbone and appendages- Miss Pratt was the one 
blue-stocking of Milby, possessing, she said, no less than five 
hundred volumes, competent, as her brother the doctor often 
observed, to conduct a conversation on any topic whatever, and 
occasionally dabbling a little in authorship, though it was 
understood that she had never put forth the full powers of her 
mind in print. Her Letters to a Yoking Man on his Entrance 
into Life, and De Courcy ; or the Rash Promise, a Tale for 
Youth, were mere trifles which she had been induced to publish 
because they were calculated for popular utility, but they were 
nothing to what she had for years had by her in manuscript. Her 
latest production had been Six Stanzas, addressed to the Rev. 
Edgar Tryan, printed on glazed paper with a neat border, and 
beginning, * Forward, young wrestler for the truth! ' 

Miss Pratt having kept her brother's house during his long 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 273 

widowhood, his daughter, Miss Eliza, had had the advantage 
of being educated by her aunt, and thus of imbibing a very strong 
antipathy to all that remarkable woman's tastes and opinions. 
The silent handsome girl of two-and-twenty who is covering the 
Memoirs of Felix Neff is Miss Eliza Pratt ; and the small 
elderly lady in dowdy clothing, who is also working diligently, is 
Mrs. Pettifer, a superior-minded widow, much valued in Milby, 
being such a veiy respectable person to have in the house in case 
of illness, and of quite too good a family to receive any money- 
payment — you could always send her garden-stuff that would 
make her ample amends. Miss Pratt has enough to do in 
commenting on the heap of volumes before her, feeling it a 
responsibility entailed on her by her great powers of mind to 
leave nothing without the advantage of her opinion. Whatever 
was good must be sprinkled with the chrism of her approval ; 
whatever was evil must be blighted by her condemnation. 

* Upon my word,' she said, in a deliberate high voice, as if she 
were dictating to an amanuensis, * it is a most admirable selection 
of works for popular reading, this that our excellent Mr. Tryan has 
made. I do not know whether, if the task had been confided to 
me, I could have made a selection, combining in a higher degree 
religious instruction and edification with a due admixture of the 
purer species of amusement. This story of Father Clement is 
a library in itself on the errors of Komanism. I have ever 
considered fiction a suitable form for conveying moral and religious 
instruction, as I have shown in my little work De Courcy^ 
which, as a very clever writer in the Crompton Argus said at 
the time of its appearance, is the light vehicle of a weighty moral.'' 

* One 'ud think,' said Mrs. Linnet, who also had her spectacles 
on, but chiefly for the purpose of seeing what the others were 
doing, 'there didn't want much to drive people away from a 
religion as makes 'em walk barefoot over stone floors, like that 
girl in Father Clement — sending the blood up to the head 
frightful. Anybody might see that was an unnat'ral creed.' 

* Yes,' said Miss Pratt, * but asceticism is not the root of the 
error, as Mr. Tryan was telling us the other evening — it is the 
denial of the great doctrine of justification by faith. Much as I 
had reflected on all subjects in the course of my life, I am 
indebted to Mr. Tryan for opening my eyes to the full importance- 
of that cardinal doctrine of the Reformation. From a child I had 
a deep sense of religion, but in my early days the Gospel light 
was obscured in the English Church, notwithstanding the 
possession of our incomparable Liturgy, than which I know no 
human composition more faultless and sublime. As I tell Eliza, 

T 



274 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

I was not blest as she is at the ago of two-and-twenty, in knowing 
a clergyman who unites all that is great and admirable in intellect 
with the highest spiritual gifts. I am no contemptible judge of 
a man's accjuirements, and I assure you I have tested Mr. Tryan's 
by questions which are a pretty severe touchstone. It is true, I 
sometimes carry him a little beyond the depth of the other listeners. 
Profound learning/ continued Miss Pratt, shutting her spectacles, 
and tapping them on the book before her, *has not many to 
estimate it in Milby.' 

*Miss Pratt,' said Rebecca, *will you please give me Scoti's 
Force of Truth 1 There — that small book lying against the Life 
of Legh Richmond^ 

* That's a book I'm very fond of — the Life of I^egh 
Bickviojul,^ said Mrs. Linnet. * He found out all about that 
woman at Tutbury as pretended to live without eating. Stuff 
and nonsense ! ' 

Mrs. Linnet had become a reader of religious books since Mr. 
Tryan's advent, and as she was in the habit of confining her perusal 
to the purely secular portions, which bore a very small proportion to 
the whole, she could make rapid progress through a large number 
of volumes. On taking up the biography of a celebrated preacher, 
she immediately turned to the end to see what disease he died of; 
and if his legs swelled, as her own occasionally did, she felt a 
stronger interest in ascertaining any earlier facts in the history of 
the dropsical divine — whether he had ever fallen off a stage-coach, 
whether he had married more than one wife, and, in general, any 
adventures or repartees recorded of him previous to the epoch of 
his conversion. She then glanced over the letters and diaiy, 
and wherever there was a predominance of Zion, the River of Life, 
and notes of exclamation, she turned over to the next page ; but 
any passage in which she saw such promising nouns as * smallpox,' 
* pony,' or * boots and shoes,' at once arrested her. 

* It is half-past' six now,' said Miss Linnet, looking at her watch 
as the servant appeared with the tea-tray. * I suppose the 
delegates are come back by this time. If Mr. Tryan had not so 
kindly promised to call and let us know, I should hardly rest 
without walking to Milby myself to know what answer they have 
brought back. It is a great privilege for us, Mr. Tryan living at 
Mrs. Wagstaff s, for he is often able to take us on his way back- 
wards and forwards into the town.' 

* I wonder if there's another man in the world who has been 
brought up as Mr. Tryan has, that would choose to live in those 
small close rooms on the common, among heaps of dirty cottages, 
for the sake of being near the poor people,' said Mrs, Pettifer. 




>->>")fcK-c^ -^^-l ' 



Flogging his galloping horse. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 277 

* I'm afraid he hurts his health by it ; he looks to me far from 
strong.' 

' Ah,' said Miss Pratt, * I understand he is of a highly respect- 
able family indeed, in Huntingdonshire. I heard him myself 
speak of his father's carriage — quite incidentally, you know — and 
Eliza tells me what very fine cambric handkerchiefs he uses. My 
eyes are not good enough to see such things, but I know what 
breeding is as well as most people, and it is easy to see that Mr. 
Tryan is quite comme il faw^ to use a French expression.' 

' I should like to tell him better nor use fine cambric i' this 
place, where there's such washing, it's a shame to be seen,' said 
Mrs. Linnet ; * he'll get 'em tore to pieces. Good lawn 'ud be far 
better. I saw what a colour his linen looked at the sacrament 
last Sunday. Mary's making him a black silk case to hold his 
bands, but I told her she'd more need wash 'em for him.' 

* mother ! ' said Rebecca, with a solemn severity, ' pray don't 
think of pocket-handkerchi-efs and linen, when we are talking of 
such a man. And at this moment, too, when he is perhaps having 
to bear a heavy blow. We don't know but wickedness may have 
triumphed, and Mr. Prendergast may have consented to forbid the 
lecture. There have been dispensations quite as mysterious, and 
Satan is evidently putting forth all his strength to resist the 
entrance of the Gospel into Milby Church.' 

; 'You niver spoke a truer word than that, my dear,' said Mrs. 
Linnet, who accepted all religious phrases, but was extremely 
rationalistic in her interpretation ; ' for if iver Old Harry appeared 
in a human form, it's that Dempster. It was all through him as 
we got cheated out o' Pye's Croft, making out as the title wasn't 
good. Such lawyer's villany ! As if paying good money wasn't 
title enough to anything. If your father as is dead and gone had 
been worthy to know it ! But he'll have a fall some day, Dempster 
will. Mark my words.' 

* Ah, out of his carriage, you mean,' said Miss Pratt, who, in 
the movement occasioned by the clearing of the table, had lost the 
first part of Mrs. Linnet's speech. * It certainly is alarming to 
see him driving home from Botherby, flogging his galloping horse 
like a madman. My brother has often said he expected every 
Thursday evening to be called in to set some of Dempster's bones ; 
but I suppose he may drop that expectation now, for we are given 
to understand from good authority that he has forbidden his wife 
to call my brother in again either to herself or her mother. He 
swears no Tryanite doctor shall attend his family. I have reason 
to believe that Pilgrim was called in to Mrs. Dempster's mother 
the other day.' 



278 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Poor Mrs. Raynor ! she's glad to do anything for the sake of 
peace and (juietness/ said Mrs. Pettifer ; * but it's no trifle at her 
time of life to part with a doctor who knows her constitution.' 

* What trouble that poor woman has to bear in her old age ! ' 
said Mary Linnet, * to see her daughter leading such a life ! — an 
only daughter, too, that she doats on.' 

'Yes, indeed,' said Miss Pratt. 'We, of course, know more 
about it than most people, my brother having attended the family 
so many years. For my part, I never thought well of the 
marriage ; and I endeavoured to dissuade my brother when Mrs. 
Raynor asked him to give Janet away at the wedding. " If you 
will take my advice, Richard," I said, "you will have nothing to 
do with that marriage." And he has seen the justice of my 
opinion since. Mrs. Raynor herself was against the connection 
at first ; but she always spoiled Janet ; and I fear, too, she was 
won over by a foolish pride in having her daughter marry a 
professional man. I fear it was so. No one but myself, I think, 
foresaw the extent of the evil.' 

* Well,' said Mrs. Pettifer, ' Janet had nothing to look to but 
being a governess ; and it was hard for Mrs. Raynor to have to 
work at millinering — a woman well brought up, and her husband 
a man who held his head as high as any man in Thurston. And 
it isn't everybody that sees everything fifteen years beforehand. 
Robert Dempster was the cleverest man in Milby ; and there 
weren't many young men fit to talk to Janet.' 

'It is a thousand pities,' said Miss Pratt, choosing to ignore 
Mrs. Pettifer's slight sarcasm, ' for I certainly did consider Janet 
Raynor the most promising young woman of my acquaintance ; — 
a little too much lifted up, perhaps, by her superior education, 
and too much given to satire, but able to express herself very well 
indeed about any book I recommended to her perusal. There is 
no young woman in Milby now who can be compared with what 
Janet was when she was married, either in mind or person. I 
consider Miss Landor far, far below her. Indeed, I cannot say 
much for the mental superiority of the young ladies in our first 
families. They are superficial — very superficial.' 

' She made the handsomest bride that ever came out of Milby 
church, too,' said Mrs. Pettifer. ' Such a very fine figure ! and it 
showed off her white poplin so well. And what a pretty smile 
Janet always had ! Poor thing, she keeps that now for all her 
old friends. I never see her but she has something pretty to say 
to me — living in the same street, you know, I can't help seeing 
her often, though I've never been to the house since Dempster 
broke out on me in one of his drunken fits. She comes to me 



1 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 279 

sometimes, poor thing, looking so strange, anybody passing her in 
the street may see plain enough what's the matter; but she's 
always got some little good-natured plan in her head for all that. 
Only last night when I met her, I saw five yards off she wasn't 
fit to be out ; but she had a basin in her hand, full of something 
she was carrying to Sally Martin, the deformed girl that's in a 
consumption.' 

' But she is just as bitter against Mr. Tryan as her husband is, 
I understand,' said Rebecca. 'Her heart is very much set 
against the truth, for I understand she bought Mr. Tryan's 
sermons on purpose to ridicule them to Mrs. Crewe.' 

* Well, poor thing,' said Mrs. Pettifer, *you know she stands 
up for everything her husband says and does. She never will 
admit to anybody that he's not a good husband.' 

' That is her pride,' said Miss Pratt. ' She married him in 
opposition to the advice of her best friends, and now she is not 
willing to admit that she was wrong. Why, even to my brother 
— and a medical attendant, you know, can hardly fail to be 
acquainted with family secrets — she has always pretended to 
have the highest respect for her husband's qualities. Poor Mrs. 
Raynor, however, is well aware that every one knows the real 
state of things. Latterly, she has not even avoided the subject 
with me. The very last time I called on her she said, " Have 
you been to see my poor daughter ? " and burst into tears.' 

* Pride or no pride,' said Mrs. Pettifer, * I shall always stand 
up for Janet Dempster. She sat up with me night after night 
when I had that attack of rheumatic fever six years ago. There's 
great excuses for her. When a woman can't think of her husband 
coming home without trembling, it's enough to make her drink 
something to blunt her feelings — and no children either, to keep 
her from it. You and me might do the same, if we were in her 
place.' 

* Speak for yourself, Mrs. Pettifer,' said Miss Pratt. * Under 
no circumstances can I imagine myself resorting to a practice so 
degrading. A woman should find support in her own strength of 
mind.' 

* I think,' said Rebecca, who considered Miss Pratt still very 
blind in spiritual things, notwithstanding her assumption of 
enlightenment, *she will find poor support if she trusts only to 
her own strength. She must seek aid elsewhere than in herself.' 

Happily the removal of the tea-things just then created a 
little confusion, which aided Miss Pratt to repress her resentment 
at Rebecca's presumption in correcting her — a person like Rebecca 
Linnet 1 who six months ago was as flighty and vain a woman as 



280 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Miss Pratt had ever known — so very unconscious of her unfortunate 
person ! 

The ladies had scarcely been seated at their work another 
hour, when the sun was sinking, and the clouds that flecked the 
sky to the very zenith were every moment taking on a brighter 
gold. The gate of the little garden opened, and Miss Linnet, 
seated at her small table near the window, saw Mr. Tryan enter. 

* There is Mr. Tryan,* she said, and her pale cheek was lighted 
up with a little blush that would have made her look more 
attractive to almost any one except Miss Eliza Pratt, w^hose fine 
grey eyes allowed few things to escape her silent observation. 
*Mary Linnet gets more and more in love with Mr. Tryan,' 
thought Miss Eliza ; * it is really pitiable to see such feelings in a 
woman of her age, with those old-maidish little ringlets. I dare- 
say she flatters herself Mr. Tryan may fall in love with her, 
because he makes her useful among the poor.' At the same time, 
Miss Eliza, as she bent her handsome head and large cannon curls 
with apparent calmness over her work, felt a considerable internal 
flutter when she heard the knock at the door. - Rebecca had less 
self-command. She felt too much agitated to go on with her 
pasting, and clutched the leg of the table to counteract the 
trembling in her hands. 

Poor women's hearts ! Heaven forbid that I should laugh at 
you, and make cheap jests on your susceptibility towards the 
clerical sex, as if it had nothing deeper or more lovely in it than 
the mere vulgar angling for a husband. Even in these enlightened 
days, many a curate who, considered abstractedly, is nothing more 
than a sleek bimanous animal in a white neckcloth, with views 
more or less Anglican, and furtively addicted to the flute, is adored 
by a girl who has coarse brothers, or by a solitary woman who 
would like to be a helpmate in good works beyond her own 
means, simply because he seems to them the model of refinement 
and of public usefulness. What wonder, then, that in Milby 
society, such as I have told you it was a very long while ago, a 
zealous evangelical clergyman, aged thirty-three, called forth all 
the little agitations that belong to the divine necessity of loving, 
implanted in the Miss Linnets, with their seven or eight lustrums 
and their unfashionable ringlets, no less than in Miss Eliza Pratt, 
with her youthful bloom and her ample cannon curls. 

But Mr. Tryan has entered the room, and the strange light 
from the golden sky falling on his light-brown hair, which is 
brushed high up round his head, makes it look almost like an 
aureole. His grey eyes, too, shine with unwonted brilliancy this 
evening. They were not remarkable eyes, but they accorded 










mM %IEI?I? 




^^^J#. 



-<r.c<^(^jv^ i9«e 



7"/;^ ladies fixed their eyes on him. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 283 

completely in their changing light with the changing expression 
of his person, which indicated the paradoxical character often 
observable in a large-limbed sanguine blond ; at once mild and 
irritable, gentle and overbearing, indolent and resolute, self- 
conscious and dreamy. Except that the well -filled lips had 
something of the artificially compressed look which is often the 
sign of a struggle to keep the dragon undermost, and that the 
complexion was rather pallid, giving the idea of imperfect health, 
Mr. Tryan's face in repose was that of an ordinary whiskerless 
blond, and it seemed difficult to refer a certain air of distinction 
about him to anything in particular, unless it were his delicate 
hands and well-shapen feet. 

It was a great anomaly to the Milby mind that a canting 
evangelical parson, who would take tea with tradespeople, and 
make friends of vulgar women like the Linnets, should have so 
much the air of a gentleman, and be so little like the splay-footed 
Mr. Stickney of Salem, to whom he approximated so closely in 
doctrine. And this want of correspondence between the physique 
and the creed had excited no less surprise in the larger town of 
Laxeter, where Mr. Try an had formerly held a curacy ; for of the 
two other Low Church clergymen in the neighbourhood, one was 
a Welshman of globose figure and unctuous complexion, and the 
other a man of atrabiliar aspect, with lank black hair, and a 
redundance of limp cravat — in fact, the sort of thing you might 
expect in men who distributed the publications of the Religious 
Tract Society, and introduced Dissenting hymns into the Church. 

Mr. Tryan shook hands with Mrs. Linnet, bowed with rather 
a preoccupied air to the other ladies, and seated himself in the 
large horse-hair easy-chair which had been drawn forward for him, 
while the ladies ceased from their work, and fixed ♦^^heir eyes on 
him, awaiting the news he had to tell them. 

'It seems,' he began, in a low and silvery tone, 'I need a 
lesson of patience ; there has been something wrong ir my thought 
or action about this evening lecture. I have been too much bent 
on doing good to Milby after my own plan — too reliant on my own 
wisdom.' 

Mr. Tryan paused. He was struggling against inward 
irritation. 

* The delegates are come back, then 1 ' ' Has Mr. Prendergast 
given way 1 ' ' Has Dempster succeeded ? ' — were the eager 
questions of three ladies at once. 

* Yes ; the town is in an uproar. As we were sitting in Mr. 
Landor's drawing-room we heard a loud cheering, and presently 
Mr. Thrupp, the cleik at the bank, who had been waiting at 



284 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the Red Lion to hear the result, came to let us know. He said 
Dempster had been making a speech to the mob out of the windoinr. 
They were ilistributino: drink to the people, and hoisting placards 
in great let ters, — * * Do wn with the Tryanites ? " " Down with cant ! " 
They had a hideous caricature of me being tripped-up and pitched 
head-foremost out of the pulpit. Crood old Mr. Landor would 
insist on sending me round in the carriage ; he thought I should 
not be safe from the mob ; but I got down at the Crossways. 
The row was evidently preconcerted by Dempster before he set 
out. He made sure of succeeding.' 

Mr. Try an s utterance had been getting rather louder and 
more rapid in the course of this speech, and he now added, in the 
energetic chest-voice, which, both in and out of the pulpit, 
alternated continually with his more silvery notes — 

' But his triumph will be a short one. If he thinks he can 
intimidate me by obloquy or threats, he has mistaken the man he has 
to deal with. Mr. Dempster and his colleagues will find themselves 
checkmated after all. Mr. Prendergast has been false to his own 
conscience in this business. He knows as well as I do that he is 
throwing away the souls of the people by leaving things as they 
are in the parish. But I shaU appeal to the Bishop — I am 
confident of his sympathy.' 

*The Bishop will be coming shortly, I suppose,' said Miss 
Pratt, * to hold a confirmation ? ' 

* Yes ; but I shall write to him at once, and lay the case before 
him. Indeed, I must hurry away now, for I have many matters 
to attend to. You, ladies, have been kindly helping me with your 
labours, I see,' continued Mr. Tryan, politely, glancing at the 
canvas- covered books as he rose from his seat. Then, turning to 
Mary Linnet : * Our library is really getting on, I think. You 
and your sister have quite a heavy task of distribution now.' 

Poor Rebecca felt it very hard to bear that Mr. Tryan did not 
turn towards her too. If he knew how much she entered into his 
feelings about the lecture, and the interest she took in the library. 
Well ! perhaps it was her lot to be overlooked — and it might be 
a token of mercy. Even a good .man might not always know the 
heart that was most with him. But the next moment poor Mary 
had a pang, when Mr. Tryan turned to Miss Eliza Pratt, and the 
preoccupied expression of his face melted into that beaming 
timidity with which a man almost always addresses a pretty woman. 

* I have to thank you, too, Miss Eliza, for seconding me so well 
in your visits to Joseph Mercer. The old man tells me how 
precious he finds your reading to him, now he is no longer able to 
go to church.' 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 285 

Miss Eliza only answered by a blush, which made her look all 
the handsomer, but her aunt said — 

' Yes, Mr. Tiyan, I have ever inculcated on my dear Eliza the 
importance of spending her leisure in being useful to her fellow- 
creatures. Your example and instruction have been quite in the 
spirit of the system which I have always pursued, though we are 
indebted to you for a clearer view of the motives that should 
actuate us in our pursuit of good works. Not that I can accuse 
myself of having ever had a self-righteous spirit, but my humility 
was rather instinctive than based on a firm ground of doctrinal 
knowledge, such as you so admirably impart to us.' 

Mrs. Linnet's usual entreaty that Mr. Tryan would *have 
something — some wine-and- water, and a biscuit,' was just here a 
welcome relief from the necessity of answering Miss Pratt's 
oration. 

^^ ' Not anything, my dear Mrs. Linnet, thank you. You forget 
what a Rechabite I am. By the by, when I went this morning to 
see a poor girl in Butcher's Lane, whom I had heard of as being 
in a consumption, I found Mrs. Dempster there. I had often met 
her in the street, but did not know it was Mrs. Dempster. It 
seems she goes among the poor a good deal. She is really an 
interesting-looking woman. I was quite surprised, for I have heard 
the worst account of her habits — that she is almost as bad as her 
husband. She went out hastily as soon as I entered. But' 
(apologetically) * I am keeping you all standing, and I must really 
hurry away. Mrs. Pettifer, I have not had the pleasure of calling 
on you for some time ; I shall take an early opportunity of going 
your way. Good evening, good evening.'/ 



CHAPTER IV 

Mr. Tryan was right in saying that the * tow ' in Milby had been 
preconcerted by Dempster. The placards and the caricature were 
prepared before the departure of the delegates ; and it had been 
settled that Mat Paine, Dempster's clerk, should ride out on 
Thursday morning to meet them at Whitlow, the last place where 
they would change horses, that he might gallop back and prepare an 
ovation for the triumvirate in case of their success. Dempster 
had determined to dine at Whitlow : so that Mat Paine was in 
Milby again two hours before the entrance of the delegates, and 
had time to send a whisper up the back streets that there was 
promise of a * spree ' in the Bridge Way, as well as to assemble 
two knots of picked men — one to feed the flame of orthodox zeal 
with gin-and-water, at the Green Man, near High Street ; the 
other to solidify their church principles with heady beer at the 
Bear and Ragged Staff in the Bridge Way. 

The Bridge Way was an irregular straggling street, where the 
town fringed off raggedly into the Whitlow road : rows of new red- 
brick houses, in which ribbon-looms were rattling behind long lines 
of window, alternating with old, half-thatched, half-tiled cottages 
— one of those dismal wide streets where dirt and misery have no 
long shadows thrown on them to soften their ugliness. Here, 
about half-past five o'clock, Silly Caleb, an idiot well known in 
Dog Lane, but more of a stranger in the Bridge Way, was seen 
slouching along with a string of boys hooting at his heels ; 
presently another group, for the most part out at elbows, came 
briskly in the same direction, looking round them with an air of 
expectation ; and at no long interval, Deb Traunter, in a pink 
flounced gown and floating ribbons, was observed talking with 
great affability to two men in seal-skin caps and fustian, who 
formed her cortege. The Bridge Way began to have a presenti- 
ment of something in the wind. Phib Cook left her evening 
wash-tub and appeared at her door in soap-suds, a bonnet-poke, 
and general dampness; three narrow-chested ribbon-weavers, in 

286 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 287 

rusty black streaked with shreds of many-coloured silk, sauntered 
out with their hands in their pockets ; and Molly Beale, a brawny 
old virago, descrying wiry Dame Ricketts peeping out from her 
entry, seized the opportunity of renewing the morning's skirmish. 
In short, the Bridge Way was in that state of excitement which 
is understood to announce a * demonstration ' on the part of the 
British public ; and the afflux of remote townsmen increasing, 
there was soon so large a crowd that it was time for Bill Powers, 
a plethoric Goliath, who presided over the knot of beer-drinkers at 
the Bear and Ragged Staff, to issue forth with his companions, 
and, like the enunciator of the ancient myth, make the assemblage 
distinctly conscious of the common sentiment that had drawn them 
together. The expectation of the delegates' chaise, added to the 
fight between Molly Beale and Dame Ricketts, and the ill-advised 
appearance of a lean bull-terrier, were a sufficient safety-valve to 
the popular excitement during the remaining quarter of an hour ; at 
the end of which the chaise was seen approaching along the Whit- 
low road, with oak boughs ornamenting the horses' heads ; and, 
to quote the account of this interesting scene which was sent to 
the Rotherhy Guardian^ *loud cheers immediately testified to 
the sympathy of the honest fellows collected there, with the 
public-spirited exertions of their fellow-townsmen.' Bill Powers, 
whose bloodshot eyes, bent hat, and protuberant altitude, marked 
him out as the natural leader of the assemblage, undertook to 
interpret the common sentiment by stopping the chaise, advancing 
to the door with raised hat, and begging 'to know of Mr. Dempster, 
whether the Rector had forbidden the * canting lecture.' 

*Yes, yes,' said Mr. Dempster. 'Keep up a jolly good 
hurray.' 

No public duty could have been more easy and agreeable to 
Mr. Powers and his associates, and the chorus swelled all the way 
to the High Street, where, by a mysterious coincidence often 
observable in these spontaneous ' demonstrations,' large placards 
on long poles were obsei'ved to shoot upwards from among the 
crowd, principally in the direction of Tucker's Lane, where the 
Green Man was situated. One bore, * Down with the Tryanites ! ' 
another, * No Cant ! ' another, * Long live our venerable Curate ! ' 
and one in still larger letters, * Sound Church Principles and no 
Hypocrisy ! ' But a still more remarkable impromptu was a huge 
caricature of Mr. Tryan in gown and band, with an enormous 
aureole of yellow hair and upturned eyes, standing on the pulpit 
stairs and trying to pull down old Mr. Crewe. Groans, yells, 
and hisses — hisses, yells, and groans — only stemmed by the 
appearance of another caricature representing Mr. Tryan being 



288 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

pitched head-foremost from the pulpit stairs by a hand which the 
artist, either from subtilty of intention or want of space, had left 
unindicated. In the midst of the tremendous cheering that 
saluted this piece of symbolical art, the chaise had reached the 
door of the Red Lion, and loud cries of * Dempster for ever!' 
with a feebler cheer now and then for Tomlinson and Budd, were 
presently responded to by the appearance of the public-spirited 
attorney at the large upper window, where also were visible a 
little in the background the small sleek head of Mr. Budd, and 
the blinking countenance of Mr. Tomlinson. 

Mr. Dempster held his hat in his hand, and poked his head 
forward with a butting motion by way of bow. A storm of 
cheers subsided at last into dropping sounds of * Silence ! ' * Hear 
. him ! ' * Go it, Dempster ! ' and the lawyer's rasping voice became 
distinctly audible. 

* Fellow -townsmen ! It gives us the sincerest pleasure — I 
speak for my respected colleagues as weU as myself — to witness 
these strong proofs of your attachment to the principles of our 
excellent Church, and your zeal for the honour of our venerable 
pastor. But it is no more than I expected of you. I know you 
well. IVe known you for the last twenty years to be as honest 
and respectable a set of ratepayers as any in this county. Your 
hearts are sound to the core ! No man had better try to thrust 
his cant and hypocrisy down your throats. You're used to wash 
them with liquor of a better flavour. This is the proudest 
moment in my own life, and I think I may say in that of my 
colleagues, in which I have to tell you that our exertions in the 
cause of sound religion and manly morality have been crowned 
with success. Yes, my fellow- townsmen ! I have the gratification 
of announcing to you thus formally what you have already learned 
indirectly. The pulpit from which our venerable pastor has fed 
us with sound doctrine for half a century is not to be invaded by 
a fanatical, sectarian, double-faced, Jesuitical interloper 1 We 
are not to have our young people demoralised and corrupted by 
the temptations to vice, notoriously connected with Sunday 
evening lectures ! We are not to have a preacher obtruding 
himself upon us, who decries good works, and sneaks into our 
homes perverting the faith of our wives and daughters ! We are 
not to be poisoned with doctrines which damp every innocent 
enjoyment, and pick a poor man's pocket of the sixpence with 
which he might buy himself a cheerful glass after a hard day's 
work, under pretence of paying for bibles to send to the 
Chicktaws ! 

*But I'm not going to waste your valuable time with un- 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 289 

necessary words. I am a man of deeds.' (*Ay, damn you, that 
you are, and you charge well for 'em too,' said a voice from the 
crowd, probably that of a gentleman who was immediately after- 
wards observed with his hat crushed over his head.) *I shall 
always be at the service of my fellow- townsmen, and whoever 
dares to hector over you, or interfere with your innocent pleasures, 
shall have an account to settle with Robert Dempster. 

* Now, my boys ! you can't do better than disperse and carry 
the good news to all your fellow-townsmen, whose hearts are as 
sound as your own. Let some of you go one way and some 
another, that every man, woman, and child in Milby may know 
what you know yourselves. But before we part, let us have three 
cheers for True Religion, and down with Cant ! 'J 

When the last cheer was dying, Mr. Dempster closed the 
window, and the judiciously instructed placards and caricatures 
moved off in divers directions, followed by larger or smaller 
divisions of the crowd. The greatest attraction apparently lay 
in the direction of Dog Lane, the outlet towards Paddiford 
Common, whither the caricatures were moving ; and you foresee, 
of course, that those works of symbolical art were consumed 
with a liberal expenditure of dry gorse- bushes and vague 
shouting. 

After these great public exertions, it was natural that Mr. 
Dempster and his colleagues should feel more in need than usual 
of a little social relaxation ; and a party of their friends was 
already beginning to assemble in the large parlour of the Red 
Lion, convened partly by their own curiosity, and partly by the 
invaluable Mat Paine. The most capacious punch-bowl was put 
in requisition ; and that born gentleman, Mr. Lowme, seated 
opposite Mr. Dempster as * Vice,' undertook to brew the punch, 
defying the criticisms of the envious men out of office, who, with 
the readiness of irresponsibility, ignorantly suggested more lemons. 
The social festivities were continued till long past midnight, when 
several friends of sound religion were conveyed home with some 
difficulty, one of them showing a dogged determination to seat 
himself in the gutter. 

IVfr. Dempster had done as much justice to the punch as any 
of the party ; and his friend Boots, though aware that the lawyer 
could * carry his Hquor like Old Nick,' with whose social 
demeanour Boots seemed to be particularly well acquainted, 
nevertheless thought it might be as well to see so good a 
customer in safety to his own door, and walked quietly behind 
his elbow out of the inn-yard. Dempster, however, soon became 
aware of him, stopped short, and, turning slowly round upon him, 

u 



290 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

recognised the well-known drab waistcoat sleeves, conspicuous 
enough in the starlight. 

' You twopenny scoundrel ! What do you mean by dogging a 
professional man's footsteps in this way ? Ill break every bone 
in your skin if you attempt to track me, like a beastly cur 
sniffing at one's pocket. Do you think a gentleman will make 
his way home any the better for having the scent of your 
blacking-bottle thrust up his nostrils ? ' 

Boots slunk back, in more amusement than ill-humour, thinking 
the lawyer's * rum talk ' was doubtless part and parcel of his 
professional ability ; and Mr. Dempster pursued his slow way 
alone. 

His house lay in Orchard Street, which opened on the prettiest 
outskirt of the town — the church, the parsonage, and a long 
stretch of green fields. It was an old-fashioned house, with an 
overhanging upper storey ; outside, it had a face of rough stucco, 
and casement windows with green frames and shutters ; inside, it 
was full of long passages, and rooms with low ceilings. There 
was a large heavy knocker on the green door, and though Mr. 
Dempster carried a latch-key, he sometimes chose to use the 
knocker. He chose to do so now. The thunder resounded 
through Orchard Street, and, after a single minute, there was a 
second clap louder than the first. Another minute, and still the 
door was not opened ; whereupon Mr. Dempster, muttering, took 
out his latch-key, and, with less difficulty than might have been 
expected, thrust it into the door. When he opened the door the 
passage was dark. 

* Janet ! ' in the loudest rasping tone, was the next sound that 
rang through the house. 

* Janet ! ' again — before a slow step was heard on the stairs, 
and a distant light began to flicker on the wall of the passage. 

* Curse you ! you creeping idiot ! Come faster, can't you ? ' 
Yet a few seconds, and the figure of a tall woman, holding 

aslant a heavy-plated drawing-room candlestick, appeared at the 
turning of the passage that led to the broader entrance. 

She had on a light dress which sat loosely about her figure, 
but did not disguise its liberal, graceful outline. A heavy mass 
of straight jet-black hair had escaped from its fastening, and 
hung over her shoulders. Her grandly cut features, pale with 
the natural paleness of a brunette, had premature lines about 
them, telling that the years had been lengthened by sorrow, and 
the delicately curved nostril, which seemed made to quiver with 
the proud consciousness of power and beauty, must have quivered 
to the heart-piercing griefs which had given that worn look to the 




Pushed her slowly be/ore him. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 293 

comers of the mouth. Her wide open black eyes had a strangely 
fixed, sightless gaze, as she paused at the turning, and stood 
silent before her husband. 

' I'll teach you to keep me waiting in the dark, you pale, 
staring fool ! ' he said, advancing with his slow drunken step. 
' What, you've been drinking again, have you 1 I'll beat you 
into your senses.' 

He laid his hand with a firm gripe on her shoulder, turned her 
round, and pushed her slowly before him along the passage 
and through the dining-room door, which stood open on their 
left hand. 

There was a portrait of Janet's mother, a grey-haired, dark- 
eyed old woman, in a neatly fluted cap, hanging over the 
mantelpiece. Surely the aged eyes take on a look of anguish as 
they see Janet — not trembling, no ! it would be better if she 
trembled — standing stupidly unmoved in her great beauty, while 
the heavy arm is lifted to strike her. The blow falls — another — 
and another. Surely the mother hears that cry — * Robert ! 
pity! pity!' 

Poor grey-haired woman ! Was it for this you suffered a 
mother's pangs in your lone widowhood five-and thirty years ago 1 
Was it for this you kept the little worn morocco shoes Janet had 
first run in, and kissed them day by day when she was away 
from you, a tall girl at school ? Was it for this you looked proudly 
at her when she came back to you in her rich pale beauty, like 
a tall white arum that has just unfolded its grand pure curves 
to the sun ? 

The mother lies sleepless and praying in her lonely house, 
weeping the difficult tears of age, because she dreads this may be 
a cruel night for her child. 

She, too, has a picture over her mantelpiece, drawn in chalk by 
Janet long years ago. She looked at it before she went to bed. 
It is a head bowed beneath a cross, and wearing a crown 
of thorns. 



CHAPTER V 

It was half-past nine o'clock in the morning. The midsummer 
sun was already warm on the roofs and weathercocks of Milby. 
The church-bells were ringing, and many families were conscious 
of Sunday sensations, chiefy referable to the fact that the 
daughters had come down to breakfast in their best frocks, and 
with their hair particularly well dressed. For it was not Sunday, 
but Wednesday ; and though the Bishop was going to hold a 
Confirmation, and to decide whether or not there should be a 
Sunday evening lecture in Milby, the sunbeams had the usual 
working-day look to the haymakers already long out in the fields, 
and to laggard weavers just * setting up ' their week's ' piece.' 
The notion of its being Sunday was the strongest in young ladies 
like Miss Phipps, who was going to accompany her younger 
sister to the confirmation, and to wear a * sweetly pretty' 
transparent bonnet with marabout feathers on the interesting 
occasion, thus throwing into relief the suitable simplicity of her 
sister's attire, who was, of course, to appear in a new white 
frock ; or in the pupils at Miss Townley's, who were absolved 
from all lessons, and were goin^to church to see the Bishop, and 
to hear the Honourable and Reverend Mr. Prendergast, the rector, 
read prayers — a high intellectual treat, as Miss Townley assured 
them. It seemed only natural 4hat a rector, who was honourable, 
should read better than old Mr. Crewe, who was only a curate, 
and not honourable ; and when little Clara Robins wondered why 
some clergymen were rectors and others not, Ellen Marriott 
assured her with great confidence that it was only the clever men 
who were made rectors. Ellen Marriott was going to be 
confirmed. She was a short, fair, plump girl, with blue eyes and 
sandy hair, which was this morning arranged in taller cannon 
curls than usual, for the reception of the Episcopal benediction, 
and some of the young ladies thought her the prettiest girl in the 
school; but others gave the preference to her rival, Maria 
Gardner, who was much taller, and had a lovely * crop ' of dark- 

294 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 295 

brown ringlets, and who, being also about to take upon herself 
the vows made in her name at her baptism, had oiled and twisted 
her ringlets with especial care. As she seated herself at the 
breakfast-table before Miss Townley's entrance to dispense the 
weak coffee, her crop excited so strong a sensation that Ellen 
Marriott was at length impelled to look at it, and to say with 
suppressed but bitter sarcasm, * Is that Miss Gardner's head *? ' 
*Yes,' said Maria, amiable and stuttering, and no match for 
Ellen in retort; 'th — th — this is my head.' *Then I don't 
admire it at all ! ' was the crushing rejoinder of Ellen, followed 
by a murmur of approval among her friends. Young ladies, I 
suppose, exhaust their sac of venom in this way at school. That 
is the reason why they have such a harmless tooth for each other 
in after life. 

The only other candidate for confirmation at Miss Townley's 
was Mary Dunn, a draper's daughter in Milby and a distant 
relation of the Miss Linnets. Her pale lanky hair could never be 
coaxed into permanent curl, and this morning the heat had 
brought it down to its natural condition of lankiness earlier than 
usual. But that was not what made her sit melancholy and 
apart at the lower end of the form. Her parents were admirers 
of Mr. Tryan, and had been persuaded, by the Miss Linnets' 
influence, to insist that their daughter should be prepared for 
confirmation by him, over and above the preparation given to 
Miss Townley's pupils by Mr. Crewe. Poor Mary Dunn ! I am 
afraid she thought it too heavy a price to pay for these spiritual 
advantages, to be excluded from every game at ball, to be 
obliged to walk with none but little girls — in fact, to be the 
object of an aversion that nothing short of an incessant supply of 
plum-cakes would have neutralised. And Mrs. Dunn was of 
opinion that plum-cake was unwholesome. The anti-Tryanite 
spirit, you perceive, was very strong at Miss Townley's, imported 
probably by day scholars, as well as encouraged by the fact that 
that clever woman was herself strongly opposed to innovation, 
and remarked every Sunday that Mr. Crewe had preached an 
* excellent discourse.' Poor Mary Dunn dreaded the moment 
when school-hours would be over, for then she was sure to be the 
butt of those very explicit remarks which, in young ladies' as 
well as young gentlemen's seminaries, constitute the most subtle 
and delicate form of the innuendo. * I'd never be a Tryanite, 
would you V * Oh here comes the lady that knows so much 
more about religion than we do ! ' * Some people think themselves 
so very pious ! ' 

It is really surprising that young ladies should not be thought 



296 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

competent to tke same curriculum as young gentlemen. I observe 
that their powers of sarcasm are quite equal ; and if there had 
been a genteel academy for young gentlemen at Milby, I am 
inclined to think that, notwithstanding Euclid and the classics, 
the party spirit there would not have exhibited itself in more 
pungent irony, or more incisive satire, than was heard in Miss 
Townley's seminary. But there was no such academy, the 
existence of the grammar-school under Mr. Crewe's superintendence 
probably discouraging speculations of that kind ; and the genteel 
youths of Milby were chiefly come home for the midsummer 
holidays from distant schools. Several of us had just assumed 
coat-tails, and the assumption of new responsibilities apparently 
following as a matter of course, we were among the candidates for 
confirmation. I wish I could say that the solemnity of our 
feelings was on a level with the solemnity of the occasion ; but 
unimaginative boys find it difficult to recognise apostolical institu- 
tions in their developed form, and I fear our chief emotion 
concerning the ceremony was a sense of sheepishness, and our 
chief opinion, the spe^^ulative and heretical position that it ought 
to be confined to the girls. It was a pity, you will say ; but it 
is the way with us men in other crises, that come a long while 
after confirmation. The golden moments in the stream of life 
rush past us, and we seo nothing but sand ; the angels come to 
visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. 

But, as I said, the morning was sunny, the bells were ringing, 
the ladies of Milby were dressed in their Sunday garments. 

And who is this bright-looking woman walking with hasty 
step along Orchard Street so early, with a large nosegay in her 
hand? Can it be Janet Dempster, on whom we looked with 
such deep pity, one sad midnight, hardly a fortnight ago ? Yes ; 
no other woman in Milby has those searching black eyes, that 
tall graceful unconstrained figure, set off by her simple muslin 
dress and black lace shawl, that massy black hair now so neatly 
braided in glossy contrast with the white satin ribbons of her 
modest cap and bonnet. No other woman has that sweet speaking 
smile, with which she nods to Jonathan Lamb, the old parish 
clerk. And, ah ! — now she comes nearer — there are those sad 
lines about the mouth and eyes on which that sweet smile plays 
like sunbeams on the storm-beaten beauty of the full and ripened 
com. 

She is turning out of Orchard Street, and making her way as 
fast as she can to her mother's house, a pleasant cottage facing a 
roadside meadow, from which the hay is being carried. Mrs. 
Ilaynor has had her breakfast, and is seated ifi her arm-chair 



-•1- ■ V .r-' ■■ 1 




She ncds t ) Jonathan Lamb, the oKI pari-li 




&:> 






^^-^ 



.^1^ 



^^'fe^ 



' y<mr bonnet wants pulling a trifle forwarder^ nty child* 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 299 

reading, when Janet opens the door, saying, in her most playful 
voice — 

* Please, mother, I'm come to show myself to you before I go 
to the Parsonage. Have I put on my pretty cap and bonnet to 
satisfy you ? ' 

Mrs. Raynor looked over her spectacles, and met her daughter's 
glance with eyes as dark and loving as her own. She was a 
much smaller woman than Janet, both in figure and feature, the 
chief resemblance lying * in the eyes and the clear brunette 
complexion. The mother's hair had long been grey, and was 
gathered under the neatest of caps, made by her own clever 
fingers, as all Janet's c^ps and bonnets were too. They were 
well-practised fingers, for Mrs. Raynor had supported herself in 
her widowhood by keeping a millinery establishment, and in this 
way had earned money enough to give her daughter what was 
then thought a first-rate education, as well as to save a sum 
which, eked out by her son-in-law, sufliced to support her in her 
solitary old age. Always the same clean, neat old lady, dressed 
in black silk, was Mrs. Raynor : a patient, brave woman, who 
bowed with resignation under the burden of remembered sorrow, 
and bore with meek fortitude the new load that the new days 
brought with them. 

* Your bonnet wants pulling a trifle forwarder, my child,' she 
said, smiling, and taking off her spectacles, while Janet at once 
knelt down before her, and waited to be * set to rights,' as she 
would have done when she was a child. * You're going straight to 
Mrs. Crewe's, I suppose ? Are those flowers to garnish the dishes 1 ' 

* No, indeed, mother. This is a nosegay for the middle of the 
table. I've sent up the dinner-service and the ham we had cooked 
at our house yesterday, and Betty is coming directly with the 
garnish and the plate. We shall get our good Mrs. Crewe through 
her troubles famously. Dear tiny woman ! You should have 
seen her lift up her hands yesterday, and pray heaven to take her 
before ever she should have another collation to get ready for the 
Bishop. She said, "It's bad enough to have the Archdeacon, 
though he doesn't want half so many jelly-glasses. I wouldn't 
mind, Janet, if it was to feed all the old hungry cripples in 
Milby ; but so much trouble and expense for people who eat too 
much every day of their lives ! " We had such a cleaning and 
furbishing-up of the sitting-room yesterday ! Nothing will ever 
do away with the smell of Mr. Crewe's pipes, you know ; but we 
have thrown it into the background, with yellow soap and dry 
lavender. And now I must run away. You will come to church, 
mother 1 ' 



300 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

*Yes, my dear, I wouldn't lose such a pretty sight. It does 
my old eyes good to see so many fresh young faces. Is your 
husband going 1 ' 

* Yes, Robert will be there. I've made him as neat as a new 
pin this morning, and he says the Bishop will think him too 
buckish by half. I took him into Mammy Dempster's room to 
show himself. We hear Tryan is making sure of the Bishop's 
support ; but we shall see. I would give my crooked guinea, 
and all the luck it will ever bring me, to have him beaten, for I 
can't endure the sight of the man coming to harass dear old Mr. 
and Mrs. Crewe in their last days. Preaching the Gospel indeed! 
That is the best Gospel that makes everybody happy and comfort- 
able, isn't it, mother 1 ' 

* Ah, child, I'm afraid there's no Gospel will do that here 
below.' 

* Well, I can do something to comfort Mrs. Crewe, at least ; 
so give me a kiss, and good-bye till church-time.' 

The mother leaned back in her chair when Janet was gone, 
and sank into a painful reverie. When our life is a continuous 
trial, the moments of respite seem only to substitute the heaviness 
of dread for. the heaviness of actual suffering : the curtain of 
cloud seems parted an instant only that we may measure all its 
horror as it hangs low, black, and imminent, in contrast with the 
transient brightness ; the water-drops that visit the parched lips 
in the desert bear with them only the keen imagination of thirst. 
Janet looked glad and tender now — but what scene of misery was 
coming next 1 She was too like the cistus flowers in the little 
garden before the window, that, with the shades of evening, might 
lie with the delicate white and glossy dark of their petals trampled 
in the roadside dust. When the sun had sunk, and the twilight 
was deepening, Janet might be sitting there, heated, maddened, 
sobbing out her griefs with selfish passion, and wildly wishing 
herself dead. 

Mrs. Raynor had been reading about the lost sheep, and the 
joy there is in heaven over the sinner than repenteth. Surely 
the eternal love she believed in through all the sadness of her 
lot would not leave her child to wander farther and farther into 
the wilderness till there was no turning — the child so lovely, so 
pitiful to others, so good — till she was goaded into sin by woman's 
bitterest sorrows ! Mrs. Raynor had her faith and her spiritual 
comforts, though she was not in the least evangelical, and knew 
nothing of doctrinal zeal. I fear most of Mr. Tryan's hearers 
would have considered her destitute of saving knowledge, and I 
am quite sure she had no well-defined views on justification. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 801 

Nevertheless, she read her Bible a great deal, and thought she 
found divine lessons there — how to bear the cross meekly, and be 
merciful. Let us hope that there is a saving ignorance, and that 
Mrs. Raynor was justified without knowing exactly how. 

She tried to have hope and trust, though it was hard to 
believe that the future would be anything else than the harvest 
of the seed that was being sown before her eyes. But always 
there is seed being sown silently and unseen, and everywhere 
there come sweet flowers without our foresight or labour. ( We 
reap what we sow, but Nature has iove over and above that 
justice, and gives us shadow and blossom and fruit that spring 
from no planting of ours.J 7 



CHAPTER VI 

Most people must have agreed with Mrs. Raynor that the Con- 
firmation that day was a pretty sight, at least when those slight 
girlish forms and fair young faces moved in a white rivulet along 
the aisles, and flowed into kneeling semicircles under the light of 
the great chancel window, softened by patches of dark old painted 
glass ; and one would think that to look on while a pair of 
venerable hands pressed such young heads, and a ven arable face 
looked upward for a blessing on them, would be very likely to 
make the heart swell gently, and to moisten the eyes. Yet I 
remember the eyes seemed very dry in Milby Church that day, 
notwithstanding that the Bishop was an old man, and probably- 
venerable (for though he was not an eminent Grecian, he was 
the brother of a Whig lord) ; and I think the eyes must have 
remained dry, because he had small delicate womanish hands 
adorned with ruffles, and, instead of laying them on the girls' 
heads, just let them hover over each in quick succession, as if it 
were not etiquette to touch them, and as if the laying on of hands 
were like the theatrical embrace — part of the play, and not to be 
really believed in. To be sure, there were a great many heads, 
and the Bishop's time was limited. Moreover, a wig can, under 
no circumstances, be affecting, except in rare cases of illusion ; 
and copious lawn-sleeves cannot be expected to go directly to any 
heart except a washerwoman's. 

I know, Ned Phipps, who knelt against me, and I am sure 
made me behave much worse than I should have done without 
him, whispered that he thought the Bishop was a * guy,' and I 
certainly remember thinking that Mr. Prendergast looked much 
more dignified with his plain white surplice and black hair. He 
was a tall commanding man, and read the Liturgy in a strikingly 
sonorous and uniform voice, which I tried to imitate the next 
Sunday at home, until my little sister began to cry, and said I 
was * yoaring at her.' 

Mr. Tryan sat in a pew near the pulpit with several other 
302 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 808 

clergymen. He looked pale, and rubbed bis hand over his face 
and pushed back his hair oftener than usual. Standing in the 
aisle close to him, and repeating the responses with edifying 
loudness, was Mr. Budd, churchwarden and delegate, with a white 
staff in his hand and a backward bend of his small head and 
person, such as, I suppose, he considered suitable to a friend of 
sound religion. Conspicuous in the gallery, too, was the tall 
figure of Mr. Dempster, whose professional avocations rarely 
allowed him to occupy his place at church. 

* There's Dempster,' said Mrs. Linnet to her daughter Mary, 
' looking more respectable than usual, I declare. He's got a fine 
speech by heart to make to the Bishop, I'll answer for it. But 
he'll be pretty well sprinkled with snuff before service is over, and 
the Bishop won't be able to listen to him for sneezing, that's one 
comfort.' 

At length the last stage in the long ceremony was over, the 
large assembly streamed warm and weary into the open afternoon 
sunshine, and the Bishop retired to the Parsonage, where, after 
honouring Mrs. Crewe's collation, he was to give audience to the 
delegates and Mr. Tryan on the great question of the evening 
lecture. 

Between five and six o'clock the Parsonage was once more as 
quiet as usual under the shadow of its tall elms, and the only traces 
of the Bishop's recent presence there were the wheel-marks on the 
gravel, and the long table with its garnished dishes awry, its 
damask sprinkled with crumbs, and its decanters without their 
stoppers. Mr. Crewe was already calmly smoking his pipe in the 
opposite sitting-room, and Janet was agreeing with Mrs. Crewe 
that some of the blanc-mange would be a nice thing to take to 
Sally Martin, while the little old lady herself had a spoon in her 
hand ready to gather the crumbs into a plate, that she might 
scatter them on the gravel for the little birds. 
( Before that time, the Bishop's carriage had been seen driving 
through the High Street on its way to Lord Truffbrd's, where he 
was to dine. The question of the lecture was decided, then ] 

The nature of the decision may be gathered from the following 
conversation which took place in the bar of the Red Lion that 
evening. 

* So you're done, eh, Dempster ? ' was Mr. Pilgrim's observation, 
uttered with some gusto. He was not glad Mr. Tryan had gained 
his point, but he was not sorry Dempster was disappointed. 

* Done, sir ? Not at all. It is what I anticipated. I knew 
we had nothing else to expect in these days, when the Church is 
infested by a set of men who are only fit to give out hymns from 



304 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

an empty cask, to tunes set by a journeyman cobbler. But I was 
not the less to exert myself in the cause of sound Churchmanship 
for the good of the town. Any cowanl can fight a battle when 
lie's sure of winning ; but give me the man who has pluck to 
fight when he's sure of losing. That's my way, sir ; and there are 
many victories worse than a defeat, as Mr. Tryan shall learn to 
his cost.' 

* He must be a poor shuperannyated sort of a bishop, that's my 
opinion,' said Mr. Tomlinson, *to go along with a sneaking 
Methodist like Tryan. And, for my part, I think we should be as 
well wi'out bishops, if they're no wiser than that. Where's the 
use o' havin' thousands a year an' livin' in a pallis, if they don't 
stick to the Church 1 ' 

*No. There you're going out of your depth, Toii.linson,' said 
Mr. Dempster. *No one shall hear me say a word against 
Episcopacy — it is a safeguard of the Church ; we must have 
ranks and dignities there as well as everywhere else. No, sir ! 
Episcopacy is a good thing ; but it may happen that a bishop is 
not a gootl thing. Just as brandy is a good thing, though 
this particular brandy is British, and tastes like sugared 
rain-water caught down the chimney. Here, RatclifFe, let me 
have something to drink, a little less like a decoction of sugar and 
soot.' 

*/said nothing again' Episcopacy,' returned Mr. Tomlinson. 
* I only said I thought we should do as well wi'out bishops ; an* 
I'll say it again for the matter o' that. Bishops never brought 
any grist to my mill.' 

*Do you know when the lectures are to begin?' said Mr. 
Pilgrim. 

* They are to begin on Sunday next,' said Mr. Dempster, in a 
significant tone ; * but I think it will not take a long-sighted 
prophet to foresee the end of them. It strikes me Mr. Tryan will 
be looking out for another curacy shortly.' 

* He'll not get many Milby people to go and hear his lectures 
after a while, I'll bet a guinea,' observed Mr. Budd. * I know I'll 
not keep a single workman on my ground who either goes to the 
lecture himself or lets anybody belonging to him go.' 

* Nor me nayther,' said Mr. Tomlinson. * No Tryanite shall 
touch a sack or drive a waggon o' mine, that you may depend on. 
An' I know more besides me as are o' the same mind.' 

* Tryan has a good many friends in the town, though, and 
friends that are likely to stand by him too,' said Mr. Pilgrim. * I 
should say it would be as well to let him and his lectures alone. 
If he goes on preaching as he does, with such a constitution as 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 305 

his, he'll get a relaxed throat by and by, and you'll be rid of him 
without any trouble.' 

* We'll not allow him to do himself that injury,' said Mr. 
Dempster. * Since his health is not good, we'll persuade him to 
tiy change of air. Depend upon it, he'll find the climate of 
Milby too hot for him/ 



CHAPTER VII 

Mr. Dempster did not stay long at the Red Lion that evening. 
He was summoned home to meet Mr. Armstrong, a wealthy 
client, and as he was kept in consultation till a late hour, it 
happened that this was one of the nights on which Mr. Dempster 
went to bed tolerably sober. Thus the day, which had been one 
of Janet's happiest, because it had been spent by her in helping 
her dear old friend Mrs. Crewe, ended for her with unusual 
quietude : and as a bright sunset promises a fair morning, so a 
calm lying down is a good augury for a calm waking. Mr. 
Dempster, on the Thursday morning, was in one of his best 
humours, and though perhaps some of the good -humour might 
result from the prospect of a lucrative and exciting bit of business 
in Mr. Armstrong's probable lawsuit, the greater part of it was 
doubtless due to those stirrings of the more kindly, healthy sap of 
human feeling, by which goodness tries to get the upper hand in 
us whenever it seems to have the slightest chance — on Sunday 
mornings, perhaps, when we are set free from the grinding hurry of 
the week a^ 1 take the little three-year-old on our knee at breakfast 
to share c egg and muffin ; in moments of trouble, when death 
visits oui roof or illness makes us dependent on the tending hand 
of a slig'ited wife; in quiet talks with an aged mother, of the 
days whe i we stood at her knee with our first picture-book, or 
wrote her loving letters from school. In the man whose childhood 
has known caresses there is always a fibre of memory that can be 
touched 10 gentle issues, and Mr. Dempster, whom you have 
hitherto seen only as the orator of the Red Lion, and the drunken 
tyrant of a dreary midnight home, was the first-born darling son 
of a fair little mother. That mother was living still, and her 
own large black easy-chair, where she sat knitting through the 
livelong day, was now set ready for her at the breakfast-table, by 
her son's side, a sleek tortoise-shell cat acting as provisional 
incumbent. 

* Good morning, Mamsey ! why, you're looking as fresh as a 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 307 

daisy this morning. You're getting young again/ said Mr. 
Dempster, looking up from his newspaper when the little old 
lady entered. A very little old lady she was, with a pale, 
scarcely wrinkled face, hair of that peculiar white which tells 
that the locks have once been blond, a natty pure white cap on 
her head, and a white shawl pinned over her shoulders. You 
saw at a glance that she had been a mignonne blonde, strangely 
unlike her tall, ugly, dingy-complexioned son ; unlike her daughter- 
in-law, too, whose large-featured brunette beauty seemed always 
thrown into higher relief by the white presence of little Mamsey. 
The unlikeness between Janet and her mother-in-law went deeper 
than outline and complexion, and indeed there was little sympathy 
between them, for old Mrs. Dempster had not yet learned to 
believe that her son, Robert, would have gone wrong if he had 
married the right woman — a meek woman like herself, who would 
have borne him children, and been a deft, orderly housekeeper. 
In spite of Janet's tenderness and attention to her, she had had 
little love for her daughter-in-law from the first, and had witnessed 
the sad growth of home-misery through long years, always with 
a disposition to lay the blame on the wife rather than on the 
husband, and to reproach Mrs. Raynor for encouraging her 
daughter's faults by a too exclusive sympathy. But old Mrs. 
Dempster had that rare gift of silence and passivity which often 
supplies the absence of mental strength ; and, whatever were her 
thoughts, she said no word to aggravate the domestic discord. 
Patient and mute she sat at her knitting through many a scene 
of quarrel and anguish ; resolutely she appeared unconscious of 
the sounds that reached her ears, and the facts she divined after 
she had retired to her bed ; mutely she witnessed pooi'^ Janet's 
faults, only registering them as a balance of excuse on the side of 
her son. The hard, astute, domineering attorney was 8»till that 
little old woman's pet, as he had been when she watered with 
triumphant pride his first tumbling effort to march alone across 
the nursery floor. * See what a good son he is to me ! ' she often 
thought. * Never gave me a harsh word. And so he might have 
been a good husband.' 

Oh it is piteous — that sorrow of aged women ! In early youth, 
perhaps, they said to themselves, * I shall be happy when I have 
a husband to love me best of all ' ; then, when the husband was 
too careless, * My child will comfort me ' ; then, through the 
mother's watching and toil, * My child will repay me all when it 
grows up.' And at last, after the long journey of years has been 
wearily travelled through, the mother's heart is weighed down by 
£ heavier burthen, and no hope remains but the grave. ' 



308 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

But this morning old Mrs. Dempster sat down in her easy-chair 
without any painful, suppressed remembrance of the preceding night. 

*I declare mammy looks younger than Mrs. Crewe, who is 
only sixty-five,' said Janet. * Mrs. Crewe will come to see you 
to-day, mammy, and tell you all about her troubles with the 
Bishop and the collation. She'll bring her knitting, and you'll 
have a regular gossip together.' 

* The gossip will be all on one side, then, for Mrs. Crewe gets 
so very deaf, I can't make her hear a word. And if I motion to 
her, she always understands me wrong.' 

* Oh, she will have so much to tell you to-day, you will not 
want to speak yourself. You who have patience to knit those 
wonderful counterpanes, mammy, must not be impatient with 
dear Mrs. Crewe. Good old lady ! I can't bear her to think 
she's ever tiresome to people, and you know she's very ready to 
fancy herself in the way. I think she would like to shrink up to 
the size of a mouse, that she might run about and do people good 
without their noticing her.' 

* It isn't patience I want, God knows ; its lungs to speak loud 
enough. But you'll be at home yourself, I suppose, this morning ; 
and you can talk to her for me.' 

' No, mammy ; I promised poor Mrs. Lowme to go and sit 
with her. She's confined to her room, and both the Miss 
Lowmes are out ; so I'm going to read the newspaper to her 
and amuse her.' 

* Couldn't you go another morning 1 As Mr. Armstrong and 
that other gentleman are coming to dinner, I should think it 
would be better to stay at home. Can you trust Betty to see to 
everything ? She's new to the place.' 

*0h I couldn't disappoint Mrs. Lowme; I promised her. 
Betty will do very well, no fear.' 

Old Mrs. Dempster was silent after this, and began to sip her 
tea. The breakfast went on without further conversation for 
some time, Mr. Dempster being absorbed in the papers. At 
length, when he was running over the advertisements, his eye 
seemed to be caught by something that suggested a new thought 
to him. He presently thumped the table with an air of 
exultation, and said, turning to Janet — 

* I've a capital idea, Gypsy ! ' (that was his name for his dark- 
eyed wife when he was in an extraordinarily good humour), ' and 
you shall help me. It's just what you're up to.' 

* What is it ? ' said Janet, her face beaming at the sound of 
the pet name, now heard so seldom. * Anything to do with 
conveyancing ? ' 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 309 

*It's a bit of fun worth a dozen fees — a plan for raising a 
laugh against Tryan and his gang of hypocrites/ 

* What is it ? Nothing that wants a needle and thread, I hope, 
else I must go and tease mother.' 

*No, nothing sharper than your wit — except mine. Ill 
tell you what it is. We'll get up a programme of the Sunday 
evening lecture, like a play-bill, you know — * Grand Performance 
of the celebrated Mountebank,' and so on. We'll bring in the 
Tryanites — old Landor and the rest — in appropriate characters. 
Proctor shall print it, and we'll circulate it in the town. It will 
be a capital hit.' 

* Bravo ! ' said Janet, clapping her hands. She would just then 
have pretended to like almost anything, in her pleasure at being 
appealed to by her husband, and she really did like to laugh at the 
Tryanites. * We'll set about it directly, and sketch it out before 
you. go to the office. I've got Tryan's sermons upstairs, but I 
don't think there's anything in them we can use. I've only just 
looked into them ; they're not at all what I expected — dull, stupid 
things — nothing of the roaring fire -and -brimstone sort that I 
expected.' 

* Roaring ? No ; Tryan's as soft as a sucking dove — one of 
your honey-mouthed hypocrites. Plenty of devil and malice in 
him, though, I could see that, while he was talking to the Bishop ; 
but as smooth as a snake outside. He's beginning a single-handed 
fight with me, I can see — persuading my clients away from me^ 
We shall see who will be the first to cry peccavi. Milby will do 
better without Mr. Tryan than without Robert Dempster, I fancy ! 
and Milby shall never be flooded with cant as long as I can raise 
a breakwater against it. But now, get the breakfast things 
cleared away, and let us set about the play-bill. Come, Mamsey, 
come and have a walk with me round the garden, and let us see 
how the cucumbers are getting on. I've never taken you round 
the garden for an age. Come, you don't want a bonnet. It's 
like walking in a greenhouse this morning.' 

*But she will want a parasol,' said Janet. * There's one on 
the stand against the garden-door, Robert.' 

The little old lady took her son's arm with placid pleasure. 
She could barely reach it so as to rest upon it, but he inclined a 
little towards her, and accommodated his heavy long- limbed steps 
to her feeble pace. The cat chose to sun herself too, and walked 
close beside them, with tail erect, nibbing her sleek sides against 
their legs, — too well fed to be excited by the twittering birds. 
The garden was of the grassy, shady kind, often seen attached to 
old houses in provincial towns ; the apple-trees had had time to 



310 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

spread their branches very wide, the shrubs and hardy perennial 
plants had grown into a luxuriance that required constant 
trimming to prevent them from intruding on the space for walk- 
ing. But the farther end, which united with green fields, was 
open and sunny. 

It was rather sad, and yet pretty, to see that little group 
passing out of the shadow into the sunshine, and out of the 
sunshine into the shadow again : sad, because this tenderness of 
the son for the mother was hardly more than a nucleus of healthy 
life in an organ hardening by disease, because the man who was 
linked in this way with an innocent past had become callous in 
worldliness, fevered by sensuality, enslaved by chance impulses; 
/pretty, because it showed how hard it is to kill the deep -down 
fibrous roots of human love and goodness — how the man from 
whom we make it our pride to shrink has yet a close brotherhood 
with us through some of our most sacred feelingg?) 

As they were returning to the house, Janet met them, and said, 
*Now, Robert, the writing things are ready. I shall be clerk, 
and Mat Paine can copy it out after.' 

Mammy once more deposited in her arm-chair, with her 
knitting in her hand, and the cat purring at her elbow, Janet 
seated herself at the table, while Mr. Dempster placed himself 
near her, took out his snuff-box, and, plentifully sufi^sing himself 
with the inspiring powder, began to dictate. 

What he dictated, we shall see by and by. 



CHAPTER VIII 

The next day, Friday, at five o'clock by the sundial, the large 
bow-window of Mrs. Jerome's parlour was open ; and that lady 
herself was seated within its ample semicircle, having a table 
before her on which her best tea-tray, her best china, and her 
best um-rug had already been standing in readiness for half an 
hour. Mrs. Jerome's best tea-service was of delicate white fluted 
china, with gold sprigs upon it — as pretty a tea-service as you 
need wish to see, and quite good enough for chimney ornaments ; 
indeed, as the cups were without handles, most visitors who had 
the distinction of taking tea out of them, wished that such 
charming china had already been promoted to that honoraiy 
position. Mrs. Jerome was like her china, handsome and old- 
fashioned. She was a buxom lady of sixty, in an elaborate lace 
cap fastened by a frill under her chin, a dark, well-curled front 
concealing her forehead, a snowy neckerchief exhibiting its ample 
folds as far as her waist, and a stiff grey silk gown. She had a 
clean damask napkin pinned before her to guard her dress during 
the process of tearmaking ; her favourite geraniums in the bow- 
window were looking as healthy as she could desire; her own 
handsome portrait, painted when she was twenty years younger, 
was smiling down on her with agreeable flattery ; and altogether 
she seemed to be in as peaceful and pleasant a position as a 
buxom, well-drest elderly lady need desire. But, as in so many 
other cases, appearances were deceptive. Her mind was greatly 
perturbed and her temper ruffled by the fact that it was more 
than a quarter past five even by the losing timepiece, that it was 
half-past by her large gold watch, which she held in her hand as 
if she were counting the pulse of the afternoon, and that, by the 
kitchen clock, which she felt sure was not an hour too fast, it 
had already struck six. The lapse of time was rendered the more 
unendurable to Mrs. Jerome by her wonder that Mr. Jerome 
could stay out in the garden with Lizzie ii#that thoughtless way, 
taking it so easily that tea-time was long past, and that, after all 

311 



812 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the trouble of getting down the best tea-things, Mr. Tryan would 
not come. 

This honour had been shown to Mr. Tryan, not at all because 
Mrs. Jerome had any high appreciation of his doctrine or of his 
exemplary activity as a pastor, but simply because he was a 
* Church clergyman,' and as such was regarded by her with the 
same sort of exceptional respect that a white woman who had 
married a native of the Society Islands might be supposed to feel 
towards a white-skinned visitor from the land of her youth. For 
Mrs. Jerome had been reared a Churchwoman, and having attained 
the age of thirty before she was married, had felt the greatest 
repugnance in the first instance to renouncing the religious forms 
in which she had been brought up. * You know,' she said in 
confidence to her Church acquaintances, * I wouldn't give no ear at 
all to Mr. Jerome at fust ; but after all, I begun to think as 
there was a many things worse nor goin' to chapel, an' you'd 
better do that nor not pay your way. Mr. Jerome had a very 
pleasant manner with him, an' there was niver another as kept a 
gig, an' 'ud make a settlement on me like him, chapel or no 
chapel. It seemed very odd to me for a long while, the preachin' 
without book, an' the stannin' up to one long prayer, istid o' 
changin' your postur. But la ! there's nothin' as you mayn't get 
used to i' time ; you can al'ys sit down, you know, before the 
prayer's done. The ministers say pretty nigh the same things as 
the Church parsons, by what I could iver make out, an' we're out 
o' chapel i' the mornin' a deal sooner nor they're out o' church. 
An' as for pews, ours is a deal comfortabler nor any i' Milby 
Church.' 

Mrs. Jerome, you perceive, had not a keen susceptibility to 
shades of doctrine, and it is probable that, after listening to 
Dissenting eloquence for thirty years, she might safely have 
re-entered the Establishment without performing any spiritual 
quarantine. Her mind, apparently, was of that non-porous flinty 
character which is not in the least danger from surrounding damp. 
But on the question of getting start of the sun on the day's 
business, and clearing her conscience of the necessary sum of meals 
and the consequent * washing up ' as soon as possible, so that the 
family might be well in bed at nine, Mrs. Jerome was susceptible ; 
and the present lingering pace of things, united with Mr. Jerome's 
unaccountable obliviousness, was not to be borne any longer. So 
she rang the bell for Sally. 

* Goodness me, Sally ! go into the garden an' see after your 
master. Tell him it's goin' on for six, an' Mr. Tryan 'ull niver 
think o' comin' now, an' it's time we got tea over. An' he's 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 313 

lettin' Lizzie stain her frock, I expect, among them strawberry- 
beds. Make her come in this minute.' 

No wonder Mr. Jerome was tempted to linger in the garden, 
for though the house was pretty and well deserved its name — 
* the White House,' the tall damask roses that clustered over the 
porch being thrown into relief by rough stucco of the most 
brilliant white, yet the garden and orchards were Mr. Jerome's 
glory, as well they might be ; and there was nothing in which he 
had a more innocent pride— peace to a good man's memory! all 
his pride was innocent — than in conducting a hitherto uninitiated 
visitor over his grounds, and making him in some degree aware 
of the incomparable advantages possessed by the inhabitants of 
the White House in the matter of red-streaked apples, russets, 
northern greens (excellent for baking), swan-egg pears, and early 
vegetables, to say nothing of flowering ' srubs,' pink hawthorns, 
lavender bushes more than ever Mrs. Jerome could use, and, in 
short, a superabundance of everything that a person retired from 
business could desire to possess himself or to share with his 
friends. The garden was one of those old-fashioned paradises 
which hardly exist any longer except as memories of our child- 
hood : no finical separation between flower and kitchen garden 
there ; no monotony of enjoyment for one sense to the exclusion 
of another ; but a charming paradisaical mingling of all that was 
pleasant to the eyes and good for food. The rich flower-border 
running along every walk, with its endless succession of spring 
flowers, anemones, auriculas, wall-flowers, sweet-williams, cam- 
panulas, snapdragons, and tiger-lilies, had its taller beauties, such 
as moss and Provence roses, varied with espalier apple-trees ; the 
crimson of a carnation was carried out in the lurking crimson of 
the neighbouring strawberry-beds ; you gathered a moss-rose one 
moment and a bunch of currants the next ; you were in a delicious 
fluctuation between the scent of jasmine and the juice of goose- 
berries. Then what a high wall at one end, flanked by a 
summer-house so lofty, that after ascending its long flight of steps 
you could see perfectly well there was no view worth looking at ; 
what alcoves and garden-seats in all directions ; and along one 
side, what a hedge, tall, and firm, and unbroken, like a green 
wain 

It was near this hedge that Mr. Jerome was standing when 
Sally found him. He had set down the basket of strawberries on 
the gravel, and had lifted up little Lizzie in his arms to look at a 
bird's nest. Lizzie peeped, and then looked at her grandpa with 
round blue eyes, and then peeped again. 

* D'ye see it, Lizzie ? ' he whispered. 



314 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

*Yes,' she whispered in return, putting her lips very near 
grandpa's face. At this moment Sally appeared. 

* Eh, eh, Sally, what's the matter ? Is Mr. Tryan come ? ' 

' No, sir, an' Missis says she's sure he won't come now, an' she 
wants you to come in an' hev tea. Dear heart. Miss Lizzie, 
you've stained your pinafore, an' I shouldn't wonder if it's gone 
through to your frock. There'll be fine work ! Come alonk wi' 
me, do.' 

* Nay, nay, nay, we've done no harm, we've done no harm, hev 
we, Lizzie ? The wash-tub 'uU make all right again.' 

Sally, regarding the wash-tub from a different point of view, 
looked sourly serious, and hurried away with Lizzie, who trotted 
submissively along, her little head in eclipse under a large nankin 
bonnet, while Mr. Jerome followed leisurely with his full broad 
shoulders in rather a stooping posture, and his large good-natured 
features and white locks shaded by a broad-brimmed hat. 

* Mr. Jerome, I wonder at you,' said Mrs. Jerome, in a tone of 
indignant remonstrance, evidently sustained by a deep sense of 
injury, as her husband opened the parlour door. *When will you 
leave off invitin' people to meals an' not lettin' 'em know the 
time ? I'll answer for't, you niver said a word to Mr. Tryan as 
we should take tea at five o'clock. It's just like you ! ' 

* Nay, nay, Susan,' answered the husband, in a soothing tone, 
* there's nothin' amiss. I told Mr. Tryan as we took tea at five 
punctial ; mayhap summat's a-detainin' on him. He's a deal to 
do, an' to think on, remember.' 

' Why, it's struck six i' the kitchen a'ready. It's nonsense to 
look for him comin' now. So you may's well ring for th' urn. 
Now Sally's got th' heater in the fire, we may's well hev th' urn 
in, though he doesn't come. I niver see'd the like o' you, Mr. 
Jerome, for axin' people an' givin' me the trouble o' gettin' things 
down an' hevin' crumpets made, an' after all they don't come. I 
shall hev to wash every one o' these tea-things myself, for there's 
no trustin' Sally — she'd break a fortin i' crockery i' no time ! ' 

*But why will you give yourself sich trouble, Susan? Our 
everyday tea-things would ha' done as well for Mr. Tryan, an' 
they're a deal convenenter to hold.' 

* Yes, that's just your way, Mr. Jerome, you're al'ys a-findin' 
faut wi' my chany, because I bought it myself afore I was 
married. But let me tell you, I knowed how to choose chany if 
I didn't know how to choose a husband. An' where's Lizzie ? 
You've niver left her i' the garden by herself, with her white 
frock on an' clean stockins 'i ' 

* Be easy, my dear Susan, be easy ; Lizzie's come in wi' Sally. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 815 

She's hevin' her pinafore took off, 111 be bound. Ah ! there's 
Mr. Try an a-comin' through the gate.' 

Mrs. Jerome began hastily to adjust her damask napkin and 
the expression of her countenance for the reception of the clergy- 
man, and Mr. Jerome went out to meet his guest, whom he 
greeted outside the door. 

* Mr. Tryan, how do you do, Mr. Tryan 1 Welcome to the 
White House ! I'm glad to see you, sir — I'm glad to see you.' 

If you had heard the tone of mingled goodwill, veneration, and 
condolence in which this greeting was uttered, even without seeing 
the face that completely harmonised with it, you would have no 
difficulty in inferring the ground-notes of Mr. Jerome's character. 
To a fine ear that tone said as plainly as possible — * Whatever re- 
commends itself to me, Thomas Jerome, as piety and goodness, 
shall have my love and honour. Ah, friends, this pleasant world is 
a sad one, too, isn't it ? Let us help one another, let ns help one 
another.' And it was entirely owing to this basis of character, 
not at all from any clear and precise doctrinal discrimination, that 
Mr. Jerome had very early in life become a Dissenter. In his 
boyish days he had been thrown where Dissent seemed to have 
the balance of piety, purity, and good works on its side, and to 
become a Dissenter seemed to him identical with choosing God 
instead of mammon. That race of Dissenters is extinct in these 
days, when opinion has got far ahead of feeling, and every chapel- i 
going youth can fill our ears with the advantages of the Voluntary 
system, the corruptions of a State Church, and the Scriptural 
evidence that the first Christians were Congregationalists. Mr. 
Jerome knew nothing of this theoretic basis for Dissent, and in 
the utmost extent of his polemical discussion he had not gone 
further than to question whether a Christian man was bound in 
conscience to distinguish Christmas and Easter by any peculiar 
observance beyond the eating of mince-pies and cheese-cakes. It 
seemed to him that all seasons were alike good for thanking God, 
departing from evil and doing well, whereas it might be desirable 
to restrict the period for indulging in unwholesome forms of 
pastry. Mr. Jerome's dissent being of this simple, non-polemical 
kind, it is easy to understand that the report he heard of 
Mr. Tryan as a good man and a powerful preacher, who was 
stirring the hearts of the people, had been enough to attract him 
to the Paddiford Church, and that having felt himself more 
edified there than he had of late been under Mr. Stickney's 
discourses at Salem, he had driven thither repeatedly in the 
Sunday afternoons, and had sought an opportunity of making Mr. 
Tryan's acquaintance. The evening lecture was a subject of 



316 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

warm interest with him, and the opposition Mr. Tiyan met with 
gave that interest a strong tinge of partisanship ; for there was a 
store of irascibility in Mr. Jerome's nature which must find a 
vent somewhere, and in so kindly and upright a man could only 
find it in indignation against those whom he held to be enemies of 
truth and goodness. Mr. Tryan had not hitherto been to. the 
White House, but yesterday, meeting Mr. Jerome in the street, 
he had at once accepted the invitation to tea, saying there was 
something he wished to talk about. He appeared worn and 
fatigued now, and after shaking hands with Mrs. Jerome, threw 
himself into a chair and looked out on the pretty garden with an 
air of relief. 

(j What a nice place you have here, Mr. Jerome ! IVe not 
seen anything so quiet and pretty since I came to Milby. On 
Paddiford Common, where I live, you know, the bushes are all 
sprinkled with soot, and there's never any quiet except in the 
dead of night.' 

* Dear heart ! dear heart ! That's very bad — and for you, too, 
as hev to study. Wouldn't it be better for you to be somewhere 
more out i' the country like ? ' 

* Oh no ! I should lose so much time in going to and fro ; and 
besides, I like to be among the people. I've no face to go and 
preach resignation to those poor things in their smoky air and 
comfortless homes, when I come straight from every luxury 
myself. There are many things quite lawful for other men, 
which a clergyman must forgo if he would do any good in a 
manufacturing population like this.^ 

Here the preparations for tea were crowned by the simultaneous 
appearance of Lizzie and the crumpet. It is a pretty surprise, 
when one visits an elderly couple, to see a little figure enter in a 
white frock with a blond head as smooth as satin, round blue 
eyes, and a cheek like an apple-blossom. A toddling little girl 
is a centre of common feeling which makes the most dissimilar 
people understand each other ; and Mr. Tryan looked at Lizzie 
with that quiet pleasure which is always genuine. 

* Here we are, here we are ! ' said proud grandpapa. * You 
didn't think we'd got such a little gell as this, did you, Mr. 
Tryan 1 Why, it seems but th' other day since her mother was 
just such another. This is our little Lizzie, this is. Come an' 
shake hands wi' Mr. Tryan, Lizzie ; come.' 

Lizzie advanced without hesitation, and put out one hand, 
while she fingered her coral necklace with the other, and looked 
up into Mr. Tryan's face with a reconnoitring gaze. He stroked 
the satin head, and said in his gentlest voice, * How do you do, 




The new/rook. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 319 

Lizzie ? will you give me a kiss ? ' She put up her little bud of 
a mouth, and then retreating a little and glancing down at her 
frock, said — 

* Dit id my noo fock. I put it on 'tod you wad toming. 
Tally taid you wouldn't 'ook at it.' 

' Hush, hush, Lizzie ! little gells must be seen and not heard,' 
said Mrs. Jerome; while grandpapa, winking significantly, and 
looking radiant with delight at Lizzie's extraordinary promise of 
cleverness, set her up on her high cane-chair by the side of grandma, 
who lost no time in shielding the beauties of the new frock with 
a napkin. 

*Well now, Mr. Tryan,' said Mr. Jerome, in a very serious 
tone when tea had been distributed, *let me hear how you're 
a-goin' on about the lectur. When I was i' the town yisterday, 
I beared as there was pessecutin' schemes a-bein' laid again' you. 
I fear me those raskills '11 mek things very onpleasant to you.' 

' I've no doubt they will attempt it ; indeed, I quite expect 
there will be a regular mob got up on Sunday evening, as there 
was when the delegates returned, on purpose to annoy me and the 
congregation on our way to church.' 

* Ah, they're capible o' anything, such men as Dempster an' 
Budd ; an' Tomlinson backs 'em wi' money, though he can't wi' 
brains. Howiver, Dempster's lost one client by his wicked doins, 
an' I'm deceived if he won't lose more nor one. I little thought, 
Mr. Tryan, when I put my affairs into his hands twenty 'ear ago 
this Michaelmas, as he was to turn out a pessecutor o' religion. I 
niver lighted on a cliverer, promisiner young man nor he was then. 
They talked of his bein' fond of a extry glass now an' then, but 
niver nothin' like what he's come to since. An' it's head-piece you 
must look for in a lawyer, Mr. Tryan, its head-piece. His wife, 
too, was al'ys an uncommon favourite o' mine — poor thing ! I 
hear sad stories about her now. But she's druv to it, she's druv to 
it, Mr. Tryan. A tender-hearted woman to the poor, she is, as iver 
lived ; an' as pretty-spoken a woman as you need wish to talk to. 
Yes ! I'd al'ys a likin' for Dempster an' his wife, spite o' ivery- 
thing. But as soon as iver I beared o' that dilegate business, I 
says, says I, that man shall hev no more to do wi' my affairs. 
It may put me t' inconvenience, but I'll encourage no man as 
pessecutes religion.' 

* He is evidently the brain and hand of the persecution,' said 
Mr. Tryan. * There may be a strong feeling against me in a large 
number of the inhabitants — it must be so from the great ignorance 
of spiritual things in this place. But I fancy there would have 
b^en no formal opposition to the lecture, if Dempster had not 



320 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

planned it. I am not myself the least alarmed at anything he 
can do ; he will find I am not to be cowed or driven away by 
insult or personal danger. God has sent me to this place, and, by 
His blessing, FU not shrink from anything I may have to encounter 
in doing His work among the people. But I feel it right to call 
on all those who know the value of the Gospel, to stand by me 
publicly. I think — and Mr. Landor agrees with me — that it will 
be well for my friends to proceed with me in a body to the church 
on Sunday evening. Dempster, you know, has pretended that 
almost all the respectable inhabitants are opposed to the lecture. 
Now, I wish that falsehood to be visibly contradicted. What do 
you think of the plan ? I have to-day been to see several of my 
friends, who will make a point of being there to accompany me, 
and will communicate with others on the subject.' 

* 111 make one, Mr. Tryan, I'll make one. You shall not be 
wantin' in any support as I can give. Before you come to it, sir, 
Milby was a dead an' dark place ; you are the fust man i' the 
Church to my knowledge as has brought the word o' God home to 
the people ; an' I'll stan' by you, sir, I'll stan' by you. I'm a 
Dissenter, Mr. Tryan ; I've been a Dissenter ever sin' I was 
fifteen 'ear old ; but show me good i' the Church, an' I'm a 
Churchman too. When I was a boy I lived at Tilston ; you 
mayn't know the place ; the best part o' the land there belonged 
to Squire Sandeman ; he'd a club-foot, had Squire Sandeman — lost 
a deal o' money by canal shares. Well, sir, as I was sayin', I 
lived at Tilston, an' the rector there was a terrible drinkin', fox- 
huntin' man ; you niver see'd such a parish i' your time for 
wickedness ; Milby's nothin' to it. Well, sir, my father was a 
workin' man, an' couldn't afibrd to gi' me ony eddication, so I 
went to a night-school as was kep by a Dissenter, one Jacob 
Wright ; an' it was from that man, sir, as I got my little schoolin' 
an' my knowledge o' religion. I went to chapel wi' Jacob — he 
was a good man was Jacob — an' to chapel I've been iver since. 
But I'm no enemy o' the Church, sir, when the Church brings 
light to the ignorant and the sinful ; an' that's what you're a-doin', 
Mr. Tryan. Yes, sir, I'll stan' by you. I'll go to church wi' you 
o' Sunday evenin'.' 

* You'd far better stay at home, Mr. Jerome, if I may give my 
opinion,' interposed Mrs. Jerome. * It's not as I hevn't ivery 
respect for you, Mr. Tryan, but Mr. Jerome 'uU do you no good 
by his interferin'. Dissenters are not at all looked on i' Milby, an' 
he's as nervous as iver he can be ; he'll come back as ill as ill, an' 
niver let me hev a wink o' sleep all night.' 

Mrs. Jerome had been frightened at the mention of a mob, and 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 321 

her retrospective regard for the religious communion of her youth 
by no means inspired her with the temper of a martyr. Her 
husband looked at her with an expression of tender and grieved 
remonstrance, which might have been that of the patient patriarch 
on the memorable occasion when he rebuked his wife. 

* Susan, Susan, let me beg on you not to oppose me, and put 
stumbling-blocks i' the way o' doin' what's right. I can't give up 
my conscience, let me give up what else I may.' 

'Perhaps,' said Mr. Tryan, feeling slightly uncomfortable, 
' since you are not very strong, my dear sir, it will be well, as 
Mrs. Jerome suggests, that you should not run the risk of any 
excitement.' 

* Say no more, Mr. Tryan. I'll stan' by you, sir. It's my 
duty. It's the cause o' God, sir ; it's the cause o' God.' 

Mr. Tryan obeyed his impulse of admiration and gratitude, 
and put out his hand to the white-haired old man, saying, * Thank 
you, Mr. Jerome, thank you.' 

Mr. Jerome grasped the proffered hand in silence, and then 
threw himself back in his chair, casting a regretful look at his 
wife, which seemed to say, * Why don't you feel with me, 
Susan ? ' 

The sympathy of this simple-minded old man was more precious 
to Mr. Tryan than any mere onlooker could have imagined. To 
persons possessing a great deal of that facile psychology which 
prejudges individuals by means of formulae, and casts them, 
without further trouble, into duly lettered pigeon-holes, the 
Evangelical curate might seem to be doing simply what all other 
men like to do — carrying out objects which were identified not 
only with his theory, which is but a kind of secondary egoism, 
but also with the primary egoism of his feelings. Opposition 
may become sweet to a man when he has christened it persecution : 
a self obtrusive, over-hasty reformer complacently disclaiming all 
merit, while his friends call him a martyr, has not in reality a 
career the most arduous to the fleshly mind. But Mr. Tryan 
was not cast in the mould of the gratuitous martyr. With a 
power of persistence which had been often blamed as obstinacy, 
he had an acute sensibility to the very hatred or ridicule he did 
not flinch from provoking. Every form of disapproval jarred him 
painfully ; and, though he fronted his opponents manfully, and 
often with considerable warmth of temper, he had no pugnacious 
pleasure in the contest. It was one of the weaknesses of his 
nature to be too keenly alive to every harsh wind of opinion ; to 
wince under the frowns of the foolish ; to be irritated by the 
injustice of those who could not possibly have the elements 

Y 



322 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

indispensable for judging him rightly ; and with all this acute 
sensibility to blame, this dependence on sympathy, he had for 
years been constrained into a position of antagonism. No wonder, 
then, that good old Mr. Jerome's cordial words were balm to him. 
He had often been thankful to an old woman for saying * God 
bless you ' ; to a little child for smiling at him ; to a dog for 
submitting to be patted by him. 

Tea being over by this time, Mr. Tryan proposed a walk in 
the garden as a means of dissipating all recollection of the recent 
conjugal dissidence. Little Lizzie's appeal, * Me go, grandpa ! ' 
could not be rejected, so she was duly bonneted and pinafored, 
and then they turned out into the evening sunshine. Not Mrs. 
Jerome, however ; she had a deeply meditated plan of retiring ad 
interim to the kitchen and washing up the best tea-things, as 
a mode of getting forward with the sadly retarded business of 
the day. 

* This way, Mr. Tryan, this way,' said the old gentleman ; ' I 
must take you to my pastur fust, an' show you our cow — the 
best milker i' the county. An' see here at these back-buildins, 
how convenent the dairy is ; I planned it ivery bit myself. An' 
here I've got my little carpenter's shop an' my blacksmith's shop ; 
I do no end o' jobs here myself. I niver could bear to be idle, 
Mr. Tryan ; I must al'ys be at somethin' or other. It was time 
for me to lay by business an mek room for younger folks. I'd 
got money enough, wi' only one daughter to leave it to, an' I says 
to myself, says I, it's time to leave off moitherin' myself wi' this 
world so much, an' give more time to thinkin' of another. But 
there's a many hours atween getting up an' lyin' down, an' 
thoughts are no cumber ; you can move about wi' a good many 
on 'em in your head. See, here's the pastur." 

A very pretty pasture it was, where the large-spotted short- 
homed cow quietly chewed the cud as she lay and looked sleepily 
at her admirers — a daintily trimmed hedge all round, dotted here 
and there with a mountain-ash or a cherry-tree. 

* I've a good bit more land besides this, worth your while to 
look at, but mayhap it's further nor you'd like to walk now. Bless 
you ! I've welly an acre o' potato-ground yonders ; I've a good big 
family to supply, you know.' (Here Mr. Jerome winked and 
smiled significantly.) * An' that puts me i' mind, Mr. Tryan, o' 
summat I wanted to say to you. Clergymen like you, I know, 
see a deal more poverty an' that, than other folks, an' hev a many 
claims on 'em more nor they can well meet ; an' if you'll mek use 
o' my purse any time, or let me know where I can be o' any help, 
I'll tek it very kind on you.' 










// / 



"This \Vci\-, Mr Tr\rin, tins wi 



. • 'i-^.-M*' f'l nji/ip^ li'i.. V 'jlitly ; :iT.*l Av'" \]\ \,< ■ •• - 
.• /.\y -o l'..Mi., rliis il' jHjul«i)i>»» (in -vJnj-.hv »> ■ '!:'i: I- " 
!"«'n r »' -iiaiiuttl iiit(» :, jM»>iiIt.i» ol' .iMt;!_'.''ii-'n. Ni.wji'.i-r 
; '. rr »• -'HI «>M Mr .Ir'- :..♦*> ci-nL:.! >VMhN v.t.- I-Ji'nt t.- j-:.. . 

• : * •" * n ili-pkt!|i to ;i^» i)l«l wcjii.Mii t»'r si.yir.ir *(J:-' 

: »i 1 ii'i»> ih.M for siniliiir at liiiu . t... m 'j.w 1. t 

•t • t.- : • {. r • i h\ liiiu. 

: 'it^ j'«T l«y tl'U time, Mr. '1 lyan pr<i]u»^f.l n walk t:. 

• . n .'. ., !'..*'jn.s :•*■ ♦i.^>i|'ntini,' ail ivool lection of tii*' rcror 

. •. :i- ' ',' • . l/mli* Lv./ic's a]»]H';il, *I\lf ^o, £rr'''!i(i[»'i ' " 

■ :i 't iM- i.,.,rt<l. y<) v:]|.. ^vas duly hoiui^tiMi ;ui<l ]»inatnita, 

•i.ii. ;;.'Viii .. -'l iiiii iiit'> t}.<' i'Viiiiiifi: Miij.^hiiK . N(.t M^s 

".'.-. '. .> .-r ; -i • l.;i] a il<«ply iii('«litjit»'d plah of n'tirin;: «." " 

.. i.H- k't.liiii a?i«] wa-hih}^ up thf^ l«'st tojt-i^iiitir.N -.-^ 

.<..; ..f .-jMHiii:: foi^vMnl with tiic sailly rctanlnl l>u^iiit\><s i ;* 

' .- w.iv, \jv. Tnan, this way,' sal. 1 thr old genth'maji : *] 
' " ' . ^ :i ».» my }.:i-uir t\isi, an' show you oiii i-ow — th.- 

* I K.' il'j' r'ouiity. \n SCO Iktp at those ba<"k-l.iiihlins 
\ .-.-•"it um ('.liry \» : I jfhuniod it iviTj- ])it niVM'lf. A»: 

• ! \, L'>»l :\\ 1 .tit cariK'iitt rV rlioj» an' my MackRmith's sl{oi» : 
I '. ■ •• «Mi'l .> j.)l'< '!♦••(■ i)iy<»df. I Tiiver roiiltl l>oar to be i<l;., 

.1 'I. • 1 im'^t al vs 1)0 at M»n\ethiii' or other. It was ti^V' 

: • - ' ' v hy lMi^;n"'s< an nu k room f(»r youn.irer folks. ]'«i 

. . ■ ■.• ^ f 'IiltIi, wi' only one dani^liter to h'ave it to, an' T Kiy .-• 

!< V -. ^s I, it s ilifu» to leave oti' moitherin' myself wi' this 

• ."!' 'i, aM^n^,» more time to tliinkin' of another. Uut 

a i»i ;nv hfurs atwt'en .irittin:i: uj) an' lyin' down, a'- 

'. .■ '■ '^ a' .H» ciin.lit'T ; yon van iti«)ve ahout wi' a .cjood -inuvy 

o!! . ".i .ii \'»-.r h.ad. Sc,\ h<TeV the ])astnr." 

A Vi A pK'tty 7...-tMre it was, svhrre the Luxe-spotted sliort 
horn»(l cow .(iilt'tly c'licwrd the end as she lay and looked slee:>iiv 
at her a«liMinTs a daintily triMinied hcd.i^e all ronnd, dotted h' :^' 
ant! rl,"!'^ with a monnt.iin ash ur a cherry tn-e. 

•J v.- a trood hit moic land hesich-s this, worth your while to 
look at h.ic ni'iylia]) its tnrther nor yon'd like to walk now. }'Ai.<^ 
yon ! I've welly an acre o' potato-frround yonders ; I've a erood Mj 
family to supply, you know.' (Here Mr. Jerome wiiikc«l ..n • 
Kicihd siL'iilfi'antly ) * An that pnts me i' mind, Mr. Trynn, •/ 
.-iMiiuc.t I Haired to say to yf)u. (leru^men like you, !" kr» >v. , 
'-co a (!«al more poverty an' that, than other folks, an' hev a m:i^v 
elaim< on 'n)i pi- re iDr they can well meet ; an' if you'll mek r. 

niy Tjiirse any time, or let m« know where I eau be o' any l:elj>, 

1 11 tek it very kind on vou.' 










nvrii 



''/ 



1 



"This way, Mr. Tryan, this way " 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 323 

* Thank you, Mr. Jerome, I will do so, I promise you. I saw 
a sad case yesterday ; a collier — a fine broad-chested fellow about 
thirty — was killed by the falling of a wall in the Paddiford 
colliery. I was in one of the cottages near, when they brought 
him home on a door, and the shriek of the wife has been ringing 
in my ears ever since. There are three little children. Happily 
the woman has her loom, so she will be able to keep out of the 
workhouse ; but she looks very delicate.' 

* Give me her name, Mr. Tiyan,' said Mr. Jerome, drawing out 
his pocket-book. * I'll call an' see her.' 

Deep was the fountain of pity in the good old man's heart ! 
He often ate his dinner stintingly, oppressed by the thought that 
there were men, women, and children with no dinner to sit down 
to, and would relieve his mind by going out in the afternoon to 
look for some need that he could supply, some honest struggle in 
which he could lend a helping hand. That any living being 
should want, was his chief sorrow ; that any rational being should 
waste, was the next. Sally, indeed, having been scolded by 
master for a too lavish use of sticks in lighting the kitchen fire, 
and various instances of recklessness with regard to candle-ends, 
considered him * as mean as aenythink ' ; but he had as kindly a 
warmth as the morning sunlight, and, like the sunlight, his good- 
ness shone on all that came in his way, from the saucy rosy- 
cheeked lad whom he delighted to make happy with a Christmas 
box, to the pallid sufferers up dim entries, languishing under the 
tardy death of want and misery. 

It was very pleasant to Mr. Tryan to listen to the simple chat 
of the old man — to walk in the shade of the incomparable orchard, 
and hear the story of the crops yielded by the red-streaked apple- 
tree, and the quite embarrassing plentifulness of the summer- 
pears — to drink -in the sweet evening breath of the garden, as 
they sat in the alcove — and so, for a short interval, to feel the 
strain of his pastoral task relaxed. 

Perhaps he felt the return to that task through the dusty 
roads all the more painfully, perhaps something in that quiet 
shady home had reminded him of the time before he had taken on 
him the yoke of self-denial. The strongest heart will faint some- 
times under the feeling that enemies are bitter, and that friends 
only know half its sorrows. The most resolute soul will now and 
then cast back a yearning look in treading the rough mountain- 
path, away from the greensward and laughing voices of the valley. 
However it was, in the nine o'clock twilight that evening, when 
Mr. Tryan had entered his small study and turned the key in the 
door, he threw himself into the chair before his writing-table, and. 



824 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

heedless of the papers there, leaned his face low on his hand, and 
moaned heavily. 

It is apt to be so in this life, I think. While we are coldly 
discussing a man's career, sneering at his mistakes, blaming his 
rashness, and labelling his opinions — * Evangelical and narrow,' or 
* Latitudinarian and Pantheistic,' or 'Anglican and supercilious' 
— that man, in his solitude, is perhaps shedding hot tears because 
his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength and patience are 
failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed. 



1 




Leaned his face low on his hand. 



CHAPTER IX 

Mr. Try an showed no such symptoms of weakness on the critical 
Sunday. He unhesitatingly rejected the suggestion that he should 
be taken to church in Mr. Landor's carriage — a proposition which 
that gentleman made as an amendment to the original plan, when 
the rumours of meditated insult became alarming. Mr. Tryan 
declared he would have no precautions taken, but would simply 
trust in God and his good cause. Some of his more timid friends 
thought this conduct rather defiant than wise, and reflecting that 
a mob has great talents for impromptu, and that legal redress 
is imperfect satisfaction for having one's head broken with a 
brickbat, were beginning to question their consciences very closely 
as to whether it was not a duty they owed to their families to 
stay at home on Sunday evening. These timorous persons, 
however, were in a small minority, and the generality of Mr. 
Tryan's friends and hearers rather exulted in an opportunity of 
braving insult for the sake of a preacher to whom they were 
attached on personal as well as doctrinal gi'ounds. Miss Pratt 
spoke of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, and observ \ that the 
present crisis afforded an occasion for emulating thtir heroism 
even in these degenerate times ; while less highly instructed 
persons, whose memories were not well stored with jrecedents, 
simply expressed their determination, as Mr. Jerome had done, to 

* Stan' by ' the preacher and his cause, believing it to be the 

* cause of God.' 

One Sunday evening, then, at a quarter past six, Mr. Tryan, 
setting out from Mr. Landor's with a party of his friends who had 
assembled there, was soon joined by two other groups from Mr. 
Pratt's and Mr. Dunn's ; and stray persons on their way to 
church naturally falling into rank behind this leading file, by the 
time they reached the entrance of Orchard Street, Mr. Tryan's 
friends formed a considerable procession, walking three or four 
abreast. It was in Orchard Street, and towards the church gate?, 
that the chief crowd was collected ; and at Mr. Dempster's 

327 



Z2S SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

drawing room window, on the upper floor, a more select assembly 
of Anti - Tryanites were gathered to witness the entertaining 
spectacle of the Tryanites walking to church amidst the jeers and 
hootings of the crowd. 

To prompt the popular wit with appropriate sobriquets, 
numerous copies of Mr. Dempsters play-bill were posted on the 
walls, in suitably large and emphatic type. As it is possible that 
the mo.st industrious collector of mural literature may not have 
been fortunate enough to possess himself of this production, which 
ought by all means to be preserved amongst the materials of our 
provincial religious history, I subjoin a &ithful copy. 

GRAND ENTERTAINMENT!!! 

To be given at Milby ou Suuda}* evening next, by the 

Famous Comedian, TRY-IT ON ! 

Aiul his fii'bt-rate Company, inclutling not only an 

U.\ PARALLELED CaST FOR COMBDT ! 

But a L;ir^e Collection of reclaimeil and wnveHed Animals; 

Among tlie i*est 

A Bear J who used to dance : 

A Puirotf once given to stceanng I ! 

A Pdygaiiwiis Pig ! ! ! 

and 

A Monkey who used to catch JUas on a Sfuiiday ! ! ! ! 

Together with a 

Pair of regenerated Linnets ! 

With an entirely new song, and plumage. 

Mr. Tut-it-on 
Will first pass through the: streets, in prucession, with his unrivalled Com- 
pany, warranted to have their eyes turned up higher, and the comers of 
their mouths turneil doicm lower, tban any other comimny of Mountebanks 
in this circuit ! 

AFTE.: WHICH 

The Theatre will be opened, and the entertainment will 

commence at Half-Past Six, 

When will be presented 

A piece, never before performed on any stage, entitled, 

THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING; 
or 
The Methodist in a Mask. 
Mr. Boanerges Soft Sawder, . . . Mr. Tky-it-on. 



Old Ten-per-cent Godly, 

Dr. Feedeniup, 

Mr. Lime-Twig Lady- winner. 

Miss Piety Bait-the-hojk, . 

Angelica, . 



Mr. Gander. 

Mr. Tonic. 

Mr. Try -n- on. 

Miss Tonic. 

Miss Seraphina Tonic. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 329 

After which 

A miscellaneous Musical Interlude, commencing with 

The Lamentations of Jerom-iah 1 

In nasal recitative. 

To be followed by 

The favourite Cackling Quartette, 

by 

Two Hen-birds who are no chickens I 

The well-known counter -ikinow Mr. Done, and a Gander, 

lineally descended from the Ooose that laid golden eggs ! 

To conclude with a 

Grand Chorus by the 

Entire Orchestra of Cmiverted Aninuds ! ! 

But owing to the unavoidable absence (from illness) of the Bulldog^ who 
lias left off fighting, Mr. Tonic has kindly undertaken, at a moment's notice, 
to supply the * bark ! * 



! ! ! 



The whole to conclude with a 
Screaming Farce of 

THE PULPIT SNATCHER. 

Mr. Saintly Smooth-Face, . . . Mr. Try-it-on ! 

Mr. Worming Sneaker, . . . Mr. Try-it-on ! ! 

Mr. All-grace No-works, . . Mr. Tuy-it-on ! ! 

Mr. Elect-and-Chosen Apewnll, . Mr. Try-it-on ! ! 

Mr. Malevolent Prayerful, . . Mr. Try-it-on ! ! 

Mr. Foist-himself-every where, . Mr. Try-it-on ! ! 

Mr. Flout-the-aged Upstart, . . . * Mr. Try-it-on ! ! 

Admission Free. A Collection will l)e made at the Doors. 
Vivai Rex ! 

This satire, though it presents the keenest edge of Milby wit, 
does not strike you as lacerating, I imagine. But hatred is like 
fire — it makes even light rubbish deadly. And Mr. Dempster's 
sarcasms were not merely visible on the walls ; they were 
reflected in the derisive glances, and audible in the jeering voices 
of the crowd. Through this pelting shower of nicknames and bad 
puns, with an ad libitum accompaniment of groans, howls, hisses, 
and hee-haws, but of no heavier missiles, Mr. Tryan walked pale 
and composed, giving his arm to old Mr. Landor, whose step was 
feeble. On the other side of him was Mr. Jerome, who still 
walked firmly, though his shoulders were slightly bowed. 

Outwardly Mr. Tryan was composed, but inwardly he was 
Buft'ering acutely from these tones of hatred and scorn. However 



330 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

strong his consciousness of right, he found it no stronger armour 
against such weapons as derisive glances and virulent ^vords, than 
against stones and clubs : his conscience was in repose, but his 
sensibility was bniised. 

Once more only did the Evangelical curate pass up Orchard 
Street followed by a train of friends ; once more only was there a 
crowd asseml)led to witness his entrance through the church gates. 
But that second time no voice was heard above a whisper, and 
the whispers were words of sorrow and blessing. That second 
time Janet Dempster was not looking on in scorn and merriment ; 
her eyes were worn with grief and watching, and she was following 
her friend and pastor to the grave. 



CHAPTER X 

History, we know, is apt to repeat herself, and to foist very- 
old incidents upon us with only a slight change of costume. 
From the time of Xerxes downwards, we have seen generals 
playing the braggadocio at the outset of their campaigns, and 
conquering the enemy with the greatest ease in after-dinner 
speeches. But events are apt to be in disgusting discrepancy with 
the anticipations of the most ingenious tacticians ; the difficulties 
of the expedition are ridiculously at variance with able calculations ; 
the enemy has the impudence not to fall into confusion as had 
been reasonably expected of him ; the mind of the gallant general 
begins to be distracted by news of intrigues against him at home, 
and, notwithstanding the handsome compliments he paid to 
Providence as his undoubted patron before setting out, there 
seems every probability that the Te Deunis will be all on the 
other side. 

So it fell out with Mr. Dempster in his memorable campaign 
against the Tryanites. After all the premature triumph of the 
return from Elmstoke, the battle of the Evening Lecture had been 
lost ; the enemy was in possession of the field ; and the utmost 
hope remaining was, that by a harassing guerilla warfare he might 
be driven to evacuate the country. 

For some time this sort of warfare was kept up with consider- 
able spirit. The shafts of Milby ridicule were made more 
formidable by being poisoned with calumny ; and very ugly stories, 
narrated with circumstantial minuteness, were soon in circulation 
concerning Mr. Tryan and his hearers, from which stories it was 
plainly deducible that Evangelicalism led by a necessary consequence 
to hypocritical indulgence in vice. Some old friendships were 
broken asunder, and there were near relations who felt that 
religious differences, unmitigated by any prospect of a legacy, were a 
sufficient ground for exhibiting their family antipathy. Mr. Budd 
harangued his workmen, and threatened them with dismissal if 
they or their families were known to attend the evening lecture ; 

331 



832 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

and Mr. Tomlinson, on discovering that his foreman was a rank 
Tryanite, blustered to a great extent, and would have cashiered 
that valuable functionary on the spot, if such a retributive 
procedure had not been inconvenient. 

On the whole, however, at the end of a few months, the balance 
of substantial loss was on the side of the Anti-Tryanites. Mr. 
Pratt, indeed, had lost a patient or two besides Mr. Dempster's 
family ; but as it was evident that Evangelicalism had not dried 
up the stream of his anecdote, or in the least altered his view 
of any lady's constitution, it is probable that a change accompanied 
by so few outward and visible signs was rather the pretext than 
the ground of his dismissal in those additional cases. Mr. Dunn 
was threatened with the loss of several good customers, Mrs. 
Phipps and Mrs. Lowme having set the example of ordering him 
to send in his bill ; and the draper began to look forward to his 
next stock-taking with an anxiety which was but slightly mitigated 
by the parallel his wife suggested between his own case and that 
of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, who were thrust into a 
burning fiery furuace. For, as he observed to her the next morn- 
ing, with that perspicacity which belongs to the period of shaving, 
whereas their deliverance consisted in the fact that their linen and 
woollen goods were not consumed, his own deliverance lay in precisely 
the opposite result. But convenience, that admirable branch 
system from the main line of self-interest, makes us all fellow- 
helpers in spite of adverse resolutions. It is probable that no 
speculative or theological hatred would be ultimately strong enougli 
to resist the persuasive power of convenience : that a latitudinariaii 
baker, whose bread was honourably free from alum, would command 
the custom of any dyspeptic Puseyite ; that an Arminian with 
the toothache would prefer a skilful Calvinistic dentist to a bungler 
stanch against the doctrines of Election and Final Perseverance, 
who would be likely to break the tooth in his head ; and that a 
Plymouth Brother, who had a well-furnished grocery- shop in a 
favourable vicinage, would occasionally have the pleasure of 
furnishing sugar or vinegar to orthodox families that found them- 
selves unexpectedly *out of those indispensable commodities. In 
this persuasive power of convenience lay Mr. Dunn's ultimate 
security from martyrdom. His drapery was the best in Milby ; 
the comfortable use and wont of procuring satisfactory articles at 
a moment's notice proved too strong for Anti-Tryanite zeal ; and 
the draper could soon look forward to his next stock-taking without 
the support of a Scriptural parallel. 

On the other hand, Mr. Dempster had lost his excellent client, 
Mr. Jerome — a loss which galled him out of proportion to the 




So they shook hands. 



\ 



JANEPS REPENTANCE 335 

mere monetary deficit it represented. The attorney loved money, 
but he loved power still better. He had always been proud of 
having early won the confidence of a conventicle-goer, and of being 
able to * turn the prop of Salem round his thumb.' Like most 
other men, too, he had a certain kindness towards those who had 
employed him when he was only starting in life ; and just as we 
do not like to part with an old weather-glass from our study, or a 
two-feet ruler that we have carried in our pocket ever since we 
began business, so Mr. Dempster did not like having to erase his 
old client's name from the accustomed drawer in the bureau. Our 
habitual life is like a wall hung with pictures, which has been 
shone on by the suns of many years : take one of the pictures 
away, and it leaves a definite blank space, to which our eyes can 
never turn without a sensation of discomfort. Nay, the involuntary 
loss of any familiar object almost always brings a chill as from an 
evil omen ; it seems to be the first finger-shadow of advancing 
death. 

From all these causes combined, Mr. Dempster could never 
think of his. lost client without strong irritation, and the very 
sight of Mr. Jerome passing in the street was wormwood to him. 

One day, when the old gentleman was coming up Orchard 
Street on his roan mare, shaking the bridle, and tickling her flank 
with the whip as usual, though there was a perfect mutual 
understanding that she was not to quicken her pace, Janet 
happened to be on her own door-step, and he could not resist the 
temptation of stopping to speak to that * nice little woman,' as he 
always called her, though she was taller than all the rest of his 
feminine acquaintances. Janet, in spite of her disposition to take 
her husband's part in all public matters, could bear no malice 
against her old friend ; so they shook hands. 

* Well, Mrs. Dempster, I'm sorry to my heart not to see you 
sometimes, that I am,' said Mr. Jerome, in a plaintive tone. 
* But if you've got any poor people as wants help, and you know's 
deservin', send 'em to me, send 'em to me, just the same.' 

* Thank you, Mr. Jerome, that I will. Good-bye.' 

Janet made the interview as short as she could, but it was not 
short enough to escape the observation of her husband, who, as 
she feared, was on his mid-day return from his ofiice at the other 
end of the street, and this oflfenpe of hers, in speaking to Mr. 
Jerome, was the frequently recurring theme of Mr. Dempster's 
objurgatory domestic eloquence. 

Associating the loss of his old client with Mr. Tryan's 
influence, Dempster began to know more distinctly why 
he hated the obnoxious curate. But a passionate hate, as 



336 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

well as a passionate love, demands some leisure and mental 
freedom. Persecution and revenge, like courtship and toadyism, 
will not prosper without a considerable expenditure of time and 
ingenuity, and these are not to spare with a man whose law- 
business and liver are both beginning to show unpleasant 
symptoms. Such was the disagreeable turn affairs were taking 
with Mr. Dempster, and, like the general distracted by home 
intrigues, he was too much harassed himself to lay ingenious plans 
for harassing the enemy. 

Meanwhile, the evening lecture drew larger and larger congrega- 
tions ; not perhaps attracting many from that select aristocratic 
circle in which the Lowmes and Pittmans were predominant, but 
winning the larger proportion of Mr. Crewe's morning and afternoon 
hearers, and thinning Mr. Stickney's evening audiences at Salem. 
Evangelicalism was making its way in Milby, and gradually 
diffusing its subtle odour into chambers that were bolted and 
barred against it. The movement, like all other religious 
' revivals,' had a mixed effect. Religious ideas have the fate of 
melodies, which, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by all 
sorts of instruments, some of them woefully coarse, feeble, or out 
of tune, until people are in danger of crying out that the melody 
itself is detestable. It may be that some of Mr. Tryan's hearers 
had gained a religious vocabulary rather than religious experience ; 
that here and there a weaver's wife, who, a few months before, 
had been simply a silly slattern, was converted into that more 
complex nuisance, a silly and sanctimonious slattern ; that the 
old Adam, with the pertinacity of middle age, continued to tell 
fibs behind the counter, notwithstanding the new Adam's addiction 
to Bible-reading and family prayer ; that the children in the 
Paddiford Sunday School had their memories crammed with 
phrases about the blood of cleansing, imputed righteousness, and 
justification by faith alone, which an experience lying principally 
in chuck-farthing, hop -scotch, parental slappings, and longings 
after unattainable loUypop, served rather to darken than to 
illustrate ; and that at Milby, in those distant days, as in all 
other times and places where the mental atmosphere is changing, 
and men are inhaling the stimulus of new ideas, folly often 
mistook itself for wisdom, ignorance gave itself airs of knowledge, 
and selfishness, turning its eyes upward, called itself religion. 

Nevertheless, Evangelicalism had brought into palpable 
existence and operation in Milby society that idea of duty, that 
recognition of something to be lived for beyond the mere satisfac- 
tion of self, which is to the moral life what the addition of a 
great central ganglion is to animal life. No man can begin to 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 837 

mould himself on a faith or an idea without rising to a higher 
order of experience : a principle of subordination, of self-mastery, 
has been introduced into his nature ; he is no longer a mere 
bundle of impressions, desires, and impulses. Whatever might be 
the weaknesses of the ladies who pruned the luxuriance of their 
lace and ribbons, cut out garments for the poor, distributed tracts, 
quoted Scripture, and defined the true Gospel, they had learned this 
— that there was a divine work to be done in life, a rule of 
goodness higher than the opinion of their neighbours ; and if the 
notion of a heaven in reserve for themselves was a little too 
prominent, yet the theory of fitness for that heaven consisted in 
purity of heart, in Christ-like compassion, in the subduing of 
selfish desires. They might give the name of piety to much that 
was only puritanic egoism ; they might call many things sin 
that were not sin ; but they had at least the feeling that sin was 
to be avoided and resisted, and colour-blindness, which may 
mistake drab for scarlet, is better than total blindness, which sees 
no distinction of colour at all. Miss Rebecca Linnet, in quiet 
attire, with a somewhat excessive solemnity of countenance, 
teaching at the Sunday school, visiting the poor, and striving after 
a standard of purity and goodness, had surely more moral loveliness 
than in those flaunting peony-days, when she had no other model 
than the costumes of the heroines in the circulating library. Miss 
Eliza Pratt, listening in rapt attention to Mr. Tryan's evening 
lecture, no doubt found evangelical channels for vanity and 
egoism; but she was clearly in moral advance of Miss Phipps 
giggling under her feathers at old Mr. Crewe's peculiarities of 
enunciation. And even elderly fathers and mothers, with minds, 
like Mrs. Linnet's, too tough to imbibe much doctrine, were the 
better for having their hearts inclined towards the new preacher 
as a messenger from God. They became ashamed, perhaps, of 
their evil tempers, ashamed of their worldliness, ashamed of their 
trivial, futile past. The first condition of human goodness is 
something to love ; the second, something to reverence. And 
this latter precious gift was brought to Milby by Mr. Try an and 
Evangelicalism. 

Yes, the movement was good, though it had that mixture of 
folly and evil which often makes what is good an offence to feeble 
and fastidious minds, who want human actions and characters 
riddled through the sieve of their own ideas, before they can 
accord their sympathy or admiration. Such minds, I daresay, 
would have found Mr. Tryan's character very much in need of 
that riddling process. The blessed work of helping the world 
forward, happily does not wait to be done by perfect men ; and 

z 



338 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

I should imagine that neither Luther nor John Bunyan, for 
example, would have satisfied the modem demand for an ideal 
hero, who believes nothing but what is true, feels nothing but 
what is exalted, and does nothing but what is graceful. ( The 
real heroes, of Grod's making, are quite different : they have their 
natural heritage of love and conscience which they drew in with 
their mother's milk; they know one or two of those deep spiritual 
truths which are only to be won by long wrestling with their own 
sins and their own sorrows ; they have earned faith and strength so 
far as they have done genuine work ; but the rest is dry barren 
theory, blank prejudice, vague hearsay. \ Their insight is blended 
with mere opinion ; their sympathy is perhaps confined in narrow 
conduits of doctrine, instead of flowing forth with the freedom of 
a stream that blesses every weed in its course ; obstinacy or self- 
assertion will often interfuse itself with their grandest impulses ; 
and their very deeds of self-sacrifice are sometimes only the rebound 
of a passionate egoism. So it was with Mr. Tryan : and any 
one looking at him with the bird's-eye glance of a critic might 
perhaps say that he made the mistake of identifying Christianity 
with a too narrow doctrinal system ; that he saw God's work too 
exclusively in antagonism to the world, the flesh, and the devil ; 
that his intellectual culture was too limited — and so on ; making 
Mr. Tryan the text for a wise discourse on the characteristics of 
the Evangelical school in his day. 

But I am not poised at that lofty height. I am on the level 
and in the press with him, as he struggles his way along the 
stony road, through the crowd of unloving fellow-men. He is 
stumbling, perhaps ; his heart now beats fast with dread, now 
heavily with anguish ; his eyes are sometimes dim with tears, 
which he makes haste to dash away ; he pushes manfully on, 
with fluctuating faith and courage, with a sensitive failing body ; 
at last he falls, the struggle is ended, and the crowd closes over 
the space he has left. 

* One of the Evangelical clergy, a disciple of Venn,' says the 
critic from his bird's-eye station. * Not a remarkable specimen ; 
the anatomy and habits of his species have been determined 
long ago.' 

Yet surely, surely the only true knowledge of our fellow-man 
is that which enables us to feel with him — which gives us a fine 
ear for the heart-pulses that are beating under the mere clothes 
of circumstance and opinion. Our subtlest analysis of schools and 
sects must miss the essential truth, unless it be lit up by the 
love that sees in all forms of human thought and work, the life 
and death struggles of separate human beings. 



CHAPTER XI 

Mr. Tryan's most unfriendly observers were obliged to admit 
that he gave himself no rest. Three sermons on Sunday, a 
night-school for young men on Tuesday, a cottage -lecture on 
Thursday, addresses to school-teachers, and catechising of school- 
children, with pastoral visits, multiplying as his influence extended 
beyond his own district of Paddiford Common, would have been 
enough to tax severely the powers of a much stronger man. Mr. 
Pratt remonstrated with him on his imprudence, but could not 
prevail on him so far to economise time and strength as to keep a 
horse. On some ground or other, which his friends found difficult 
to explain to themselves, Mr. Tryan seemed bent ou jyearing_ 
himself out. His enemies were at no loss to account for such a 
course. The Evangelical curate's selfishness was clearly of too 
bad a kind to exhibit itself after the ordinary manner of a sound, 
respectable selfishness. * He wants to get the reputation of a 
saint,' said one ; * He's eaten up with spiritual pride,' said 
another ; * He's got his eye on some fine living, and wants to 
creep up the Bishop's sleeve,' said a third. 

Mr. Stickney, of Salem, who considered all voluntary dis- 
comfort as a remnant of the legal spirit, pronounced a severe 
condemnation on this self-neglect, and expressed his fear that Mr. 
Tryan was still far from having attained true Christian liberty. 
Good Mr. Jerome eagerly seized this doctrinal view of the subject 
as a means of enforcing the suggestions of his own benevolence ; 
and one cloudy afternoon, in the end of November, he mounted 
his roan mare with the determination of riding to Paddiford and 
* arguying ' the point with Mr. Tryan. 

The old gentleman's face looked very mournful as he rode 
along the dismal Paddiford lanes, between rows of grimy houses, 
darkened with hand-looms, while the black dust was whirled 
about him by the cold November wind. He was thinking of the 
object which had brought him on this afternoon ride, and his 
thoughts, according to his habit when alone, found vent every 

339 



340 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

now and then in audible speech. It seemed to him, as his eyes 
rested on this scene of Mr. Tryan's labours, that he could 
understand the clergyman's self- privation without resorting to 
Mr. Stickney's theory of defective spiritual enlightenment. Do not 
philosophic doctors tell us that we are unable to discern so much 
as a tree, except by an unconscious cunning which combines many 
past and separate sensations ; that no one sense is independent of 
another, so that in the dark we can hardly taste a fricassee, or 
tell whether our pipe is alight or not, and the most intelligent 
boy, if accommodated with claws or hoofs instead of fingers, would 
be likely to remain on the lowest form 1 If so, it is easy to 
understand that our discernment of men's motives must depend 
on the completeness of the elements we can bring from our own 
susceptibility and our own experience. See to it, friend, before 
you pronounce a too hasty judgment, that your own moral 
sensibilities are not of a hoofed or clawed character. The keenest 
eye will not serve, unless you have the delicate fingers, with 
their subtle nerve-filaments, which elude scientific lenses, and 
lose themselves in the invisible world of human sensations. 

As for Mr. Jerome, he drew the elements of his moral vision 
from the depths of his veneration and pity. If he himself felt so 
much for these poor things to whom life was so dim and meagre, 
what must the clergyman feel who had undertaken before God to 
be their shepherd 1 

* Ah ! ' he whispered, interruptedly, ' it's too big a load for his 
conscience, poor man ! He wants to mek himself their brother, 
like ; can't abide to preach to the fastin' on a full stomach. 
Ah ! he's better nor we are, that's it — he's a deal better 
nor we are.' 

Here Mr. Jerome shook his bridle violently, and looked up 
with an air of moral courage, as if Mr. Stickney had been 
present, and liable to take offence at this conclusion. A few 
minutes more brought him in front of Mrs. WagstafTs, where 
Mr. Tryan lodged. He had often been here before, so that the 
contrast between this ugly square brick house, with its shabby bit 
of grass-plot, stared at all round by cottage windows, and his own 
pretty white home, set in a paradise of orchard and garden 
and pasture, was not new to him; but he felt it with 
fresh force to-day, as he slowly fastened his roan by the bridle to 
the wooden paling, and knocked at the door. Mr. Tryan was at 
home, and sent to request that Mr. Jerome would walk up into 
his study, as the fire was out in the parlour below. 

At the mention of a clergyman's study, perhaps, your too 
active imagination conjures up a perfect snuggery, where the 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 341 

general air of comfort is rescued from a secular character by 
strong ecclesiastical suggestions in the shape of the furniture, the 
pattern of the carpet, and the prints on the wall ; where, if a nap 
is taken, it is in an easy-chair with a Gothie back, and the very 
feet rest on a warm and velvety simulation of church windows ; 
where the pure art of rigorous English Protestantism smiles 
above the mantelpiece in the portrait of an eminent bishop, or 
a refined Anglican taste is indicated ' by a German print from 
Overbeck ; where the walls are lined with choice divinity in 
sombre binding, and the light is softened by a screen of boughs 
with a grey church in the background. 

But I must beg you to dismiss all such scenic prettiness, 
suitable as they may be to a clergyman's character and complexion ; 
for I have to confess that Mr. Tryan's study was a very ugly little 
room indeed, with an ugly slap-dash pattern on the walls, an 
ugly carpet on the floor, and an iigly view of cottage roofs and 
cabbage-gardens from the window. His own person, his writing- 
table, and his book-case, were the only objects in the room that 
had the slightest air of refinement ; and the sole provision for 
comfort was a clumsy straight -backed arm-chair, covered with 
faded chintz. The man who could live in such a room, un- 
constrained by poverty, must either have his vision fed from 
within by an intense passion, or he must have chosen that least 
attractive form of self-mortification which wears no haircloth and 
has no meagre days, but accepts the vulgar, the commonplace, 
and the ugly, whenever the highest duty seems to lie among them. 

* Mr. Tryan, I hope you'll excuse me disturbin' on you,' said 
Mr. Jerome ; * but I'd summat partickler to say.' 

* You don't disturb me at all, Mr. Jerome ; I'm very glad to 
have a visit from you,' said Mr. Tryan, shaking him heartily by 
the hand, and offering him the chintz-covered ' easy ' chair ; ' it is 
some time since I've had an opportunity of seeing you, except on a 
Sunday.' 

* Ab, sir ! your time's so taken up, I'm well aware o' that ; it's 
not only what you hev to do, but it's goin' about from place to 
place ; an' you don't keep a boss, Mr. Tryan. You don't take 
care enough o' yourself — you don't indeed, an' that's what I come 
to talk to y' about.' 

* That's very good of you, Mr. Jerome ; but I assure you I 
think walking does me no harm. It is rather a relief to me after 
speaking or writing. You know I have no great circuit to make. 
The farthest distance I have to walk is to Milby Church, and if 
ever I want a horse on a Sunday, I hire Radley's, who lives not 
many hundred yards from lue.' 



342 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Well, but now ! the winter's comin' on, an' you'll get wet i' 
your feet, an' Pratt tells me as your constitution's dillicate, as 
anybody may see, for the matter o' that, wi'out bein' a doctor. 
An' this is the light I look at it in, Mr. Tryan : who's to fill up 
your place, if you was to be disabled, as I may say ? Consider 
what a valyable life yours is. You've begun a great work i' 
Milby, and so you might carry it on, if you'd your health and 
strength. The more care you take o' yourself, the longer you'll 
live, belike, God willing, to do good to your fellow-creaturs.' 

' Why, my dear Mr. Jerome, I think I should not be a long- 
lived man in any case ; and if I were to take care of myself under 
the pretext of doing more good, I should very likely die and leave 
nothing done after all.' 

* Well ! but keepin' a boss wouldn't hinder you from workin'. 
It 'ud help you to do more, though Pratt says as it's usin' your 
voice so constant as does you the most harm. Now, isn't it — I'm 
no scholard, Mr. Tryan, an' I'm not a-goin' to dictate to you — but 
isn't it a'most a-kiUin' o' yourself, to go on a' that way beyond 
your strength ? We mustn't fling our lives away.' • 

* No, not fling them away lightly, but we are permitted to lay 
down our lives in a right cause. There are many duties, as you 
know, Mr. Jerome, which stand before taking care of our own 
lives.' 

* Ah ! I can't arguy wi' you, Mr. Tryan ; but what I wanted to 
say's this — There's my little chacenut boss ; I should take it quite 
a kindness if you'd' hev him through the winter an' ride him. I've 
thought o' sellin' him a many times, for Mrs. Jerome can't 
abide him ; and what do I want wi' two nags 1 But I'm fond o' 
the little chacenut, an' I shouldn't like to sell him. So if you'll 
only ride him for me, you'll do me a kindness — you will, indeed, 
Mr. Tryan.' 

* Thank you, Mr. Jerome. I promise you to ask for him, 
when I feel that I want a nag. There is no man I would more 
gladly be indebted to than you ; but at present I would rather 
not have a horse. I should ride him very little, and it would be 
an inconvenience to me to keep him rather than otherwise.' 

Mr. Jerome looked troubled and hesitating, as if he had 
something on his mind that would not readily shape itself 
into words. At last he said, * You'll excuse me, Mr. Tryan, 
I wouldn't be takin' a liberty, but I know what great claims you 
hev on you as a clergyman. Is it the expense, Mr. Tryan? 
is it the money 1 ' 

* No, my dear sir. I have much more than a single man needs. 
My way of living is quite of my own choosing, and I am doing 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 343 

nothing but what I feel bound to do, quite apart from money 
considerations. We cannot judge for one another, you know ; we 
have each our peculiar weaknesses and temptations. I quite 
admit that it might be right for another man to allow himself 
more luxuries, and I assure you I think it no superiority in 
myself to do without them. On the contrary, if my heart were 
less rebellious, and if I were less liable to temptation, I should 
not need that sort of self-denial. But,' added Mr. Try an, holding 
out his hand to Mr. Jerome, *I understand your kindness, and 
bless you for it. If I want a horse, I shall ask for the chestnut.' 

Mr. Jerome was obliged to rest contented with this promise, 
and rode home sorrowfully, reproaching himself with not having 
said one thing he meant to say when setting out, and with having 
' clean forgot ' the arguments he had intended to quote from Mr. 
Stickney. 

Mr. Jerome's was not the mind that was seriously disturbed by 
the idea that the curate was overworking himself. There were 
tender women's hearts in which anxiety about the state of his 
affections was beginning to be merged in anxiety about the state 
of his health. Miss Eliza Pratt had at one time passed through 
much sleepless cogitation on the possibility of Mr. Tryan's being 
attached to some lady at a distance — at Laxeter, perhaps, where 
he had formerly held a curacy ; and her fine eyes kept close watch 
lest any symptom of engaged affections on his part should escape 
her. It seemed an alarming fact that his handkerchiefs were 
beautifully marked with hair, until she reflected that he had an 
unmarried sister of whom he spoke with much affection as his 
father's companion and comforter. Besides, Mr. Tryan had never 
paid any distant visit, except one for a few days to his father, 
and no hint escaped him of his intending to take a house, or 
change his mode of living. No ! he could not be engaged, though 
he might have been disappointed. But this latter misfortune is 
one from which a devoted clergyman has been known to recover, 
by the aid of a fine pair of grey eyes that beam on him with 
affectionate reverence. Before Christmas, however, her cogitations 
began to take another turn. She heard her father say very 
confidently that * Tryan was consumptive, and if he didn't take 
more care of himself, his life would not be worth a year's 
purchase ' ; and shame at having speculated on suppositions that 
were likely to prove so false sent poor Miss Eliza's feelings with all 
the stronger impetus into the one channel of sorrowful alarm at 
the prospect of losing the pastor who had opened to her a new life 
of piety and self-subjection. It is a sad weakness in us, after all, 
that the thought of a man's death hallows him anew to us ; as if 



344 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

life were not sacred too — as if it were comparatively a light thing 
to fail in love and reverence to the brother who has to climb the 
whole toilsome steep with us, and all our tears and tenderness 
were due to the one who is spared that hard journey. 

The Miss Linnets, too, were beginning to take a new view of 
the future, entirely uncoloured by jealousy of Miss Eliza Pratt. 

* Did you notice,' said Mary, one afternoon when Mrs. Pettifer 
was taking tea with them — * did you notice that short dry cough 
of Mr. Tryan's yesterday? I think he looks worse and worse 
every week, and I only wish I knew his sister ; I would write to 
her about him. I'm sure something should be done to make him 
give up part of his work, and he will listen to no one here.' 

Ah,' said Mrs. Pettifer, 'it's a thousand pities his father 
and sister can't come and live with him, if he isn't to marry. 
But I wish with all my heart he could have taken to some nice 
woman as would have made a comfortable home for him. I used 
to think he might take to Eliza Pratt ; she's a good girl, and 
very pretty ; but I see no likelihood of it now.' 

' No, indeed,' said Rebecca, with some emphasis ; ' Mr. Tryan's 
heart is not for any woman to win ; it is all given to his work ; 
and I could never wish to see him with a young inexperienced 
wife who would be a drag on him instead of a helpmate.' 

*He'd need have somebody, young or old,' observed Mrs. 
Linnet, *to see as he wears a flannel wescoat, an' changes his 
stockins when he comes in. It's my opinion he's got that cough 
wi' sittin' i' wet shoes and stockins ; an' that Mrs. Wagstaff 's a 
poor addle-headed thing ; she doesn't half tek care on him.' 

' Oh, mother ! ' said Rebecca, * she's a very pious woman. 
And I'm sure she thinks it too great a privilege to have Mr. 
Tryan with her, not to do the best she can to make him 
comfortable. She can't help her rooms being shabby.' 

' I've nothing to say again' her piety, my dear ; but I know 
very well I shouldn't like her to cook my victual. When a man 
comes in hungry an' tired, piety won't feed him, I reckon. Hard 
carrots 'ull lie heavy on his stomach, piety or no piety. I called 
in one day when she was dishin' up Mr. Tryan's dinner, an' I 
could see the potatoes was as watery as watery. It's right enough 
to be speritial — I'm no enemy to that ; but I like my potatoes 
mealy. I don't see as anybody 'ull go to heaven the sooner for 
not digestin' their dinner — providin' they don't die sooner, as 
mayhap Mr. Tryan will, poor dear man ! ' 

* It will be a heavy day for us all when that comes to pass,' 
said Mrs. Pettifer. * We shall never get [anybody to fill up that 
gap. There's the new clergyman that's just come to Shepperton 



1 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 345 

— Mr. Parry ; I saw him the other day at Mrs. Bond's. He may 
be a very good man, and a fine preacher ; they say he is ; but I 
thought to myself, What a diflference between him and Mr. Tryan ! 
He's a sharp -sort -of- looking man, and hasn't that feeling way 
with him that Mr. Tryan has. What is so wonderful to me in 
Mr. Tryan is the way he puts himself on a level with one, and 
talks to one like a brother. I'm never afraid of telling him 
anything. He never seems to look down on anybody. He knows 
how to lift up those that are cast down, if ever man did.' 

* Yes,' said Mary. * And when I see all the faces turned up to 
him in Paddiford Church, I often think how hard it would be for 
any clergyman who had to come after him ; he has made the 
people love him so.' 



CHAPTER XII 

In her occasional viaits to her near neighbour Mrs. Pettifer, too 
old a friend to be shunned because she was a Tryanite, Janet was 
obliged sometimes to hear allusions to Mr. Tryan, and even to 
listen to his praises, which she usually met with playful 
incredulity. 

' Ah, well,' she answered one day, ^ I like dear old Mr. Crewe 
and his pipes a great deal better than your Mr. Tryan and his 
Gospel. When I was a little toddle, Mr. and Mrs. Crewe used to 
let me play about in their garden, and have a swing between the 
great elm-trees, because mother had no garden. I like people 
who are kind ; kindness is my religion ; and that's the reason I like 
you, dear Mrs. Pettifer, though you are a Tryanite.' 

' But that's Mr. Tryan's religion too — at least partly. There's 
nobody can give himself up more to doing good amongst the poor ; 
and he thinks of their bodies too, as well as their souls.' 

' Oh yes, yes ; but then he talks about faith, and grace, and all 
that, making people believe they are better than others, and that 
God loves them more than He does the rest of the world. I know 
he has put a great deal of that into Sally Martin's head, and it 
has done her no good at all. She was as nice, honest, patient a 
girl as need be before ; and now she fancies she has new light and 
new wisdom. I don't like those notions.' 

* You mistake him, indeed you do, my dear Mrs. Dempster ; I 
wish you'd go and hear him preach.' 

* Hear him preach ! Why, you wicked woman, you would 
persuade me to disobey my husband, would you ? Oh, shocking ! 
I shall run away from you. Good-bye.' 

A few days after this conversation, however, Janet went to 
Sally Martin's about three o'clock in the afternoon. The pudding 
that had been sent in for herself and * Mammy ' struck her as just 
the sort of delicate morsel the poor consumptive girl would be 
likely to fancy, and in her usual impulsive way she had started 
up from the dinner-table at once, put on her bonnet, and set off 

346 







Pale, weary, and depressed. 



JANET'S BEPENTANCE 347 

with a covered plateful to the neighbouring street. When she 
entered the house there was no one to be seen ; but, in the little 
side-room where Sally lay, Janet heard a voice. It was one she 
had not heard before, but she immediately guessed it to be Mr. 
Tryan's. Her first impulse was to set down her plate and go away, 
but Mrs. Martin might not be in, and then there would be no one 
to give Sally that delicious bit of pudding. So she stood still, 
and was obliged to hear what Mr. Tryan was saying. He was 
interrupted by one of the invalid's violent fits of coughing. 

' It is very hard to bear, is it not ? ' he said when she was still 
again. * Yet God seems to support you under it wonderfully. 
Pray for me, Sally, that I may have strength too when the hour 
of great suffering comes. It is one of my worst weaknesses to 
shrink from bodily pain, and I think the time is perhaps not far 
off when I shall have to bear what you are bearing. But now I 
have tired yoa We have talked enough. Good-bye.' 

Janet was surprised, and forgot her wish not to encounter 
Mr. Tryan : the tone and the words were so unlike what she had 
expected to hear. There was none of the self-satisfied unction of 
the teacher, quoting, or exhorting, or expounding, for the benefit 
of the hearer, but a simple appeal for help, a confession of 
weakness. Mr. Tryan had his deeply-felt troubles, then? Mr. 
Tryan, too, like herself, knew what it was to tremble at a 
foreseen trial — to shudder at an impending burthen, heavier than 
he felt able to bear ? 

The most brilliant deed of virtue could not have inclined 
Janet's goodwill towards Mr. Tryan so much as this fellowship in 
suffering, and the softening thought was in her eyes when he 
appeared in the doorway, pale, weary, and depressed. The sight 
of Janet standing there with the entire absence of self-consciousness 
which belongs to a new and vivid impression, made him start and 
pause a little. Their eyes met, and they looked at each other 
gravely for a few moments. Then they bowed, and Mr. Tryan 
passed out. 

There is a power in the direct glance of a sincere and loving 
human soul, which will do more to dissipate prejudice and kindle 
charity than the most elaborate arguments. The fullest exposition 
of Mr. Tryan's doctrine might not have suflBiced to convince Janet 
that he had not an odious self-complacency in believing himself a 
peculiar child of God ; but one direct, pathetic look of his had 
associated him with that conception for ever. 

This happened late in the autumn, not long before Sally 
Martin died. Janet mentioned her new impression to no one, for 
she was afraid of arriving at a still more complete contradiction 



348 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

of her former ideas. We have all of us considerable regard for 
our past self, and are not fond of casting reflections on that 
respected individual by a total negation of his opinions. Janet 
could no longer think of Mr. Tryan without sympathy, but she 
still shrank from the idea of becoming his hearer and admirer. 
That was a reversal of the past which was as little accordant with 
her inclination as her circumstances. 

And indeed this interview with Mr. Tryan was soon thrust 
into the background of poor Janet's memory by the daily 
thickening miseries of her life. 



CHAPTER XIII 

The loss of Mr. Jerome as a client proved only the beginning of 
annoyances to Dempster. That old gentleman had in him the 
vigorous remnant of an energy and perseverance which had 
created his own fortune ; and being, as I have hinted, given to 
chewing the cud of a righteous indignation with considerable 
relish, he was determined to carry on his retributive war against 
the persecuting attorney. Having some influence with Mr. 
Pryme, who was one of the most substantial rate-payers in the 
neighbouring parish of Dingley, and who had himself a complex 
and long-standing private account with Dempster, Mr. Jerome 
stirred up this gentleman to an investigation of some suspicious 
points in the attorney's conduct of the parish affairs. The 
natural consequence was a personal quarrel between Dempster 
and Mr. Pryme ; the client demanded his account, and then 
followed the old story of an exorbitant lawyer's bill, with the 
unpleasant anti-cUmax of taxing. 

These disagreeables, extending over many months, ran along 
side by side with the pressing business of Mr. Armstrong's lawsuit, 
which was threatening to take a turn rather depreciatory of 
Dempster's professional prevision ; and it is not surprising that, 
being thus kept in a constant state of irritated excitement about 
his own affairs, he had little time for the further exhibition of his 
public spirit, or for rallying the forlorn hope of sound churchman- 
ship against cant and hypocrisy. Not a few persons who had a 
grudge against him began to remark, with satisfaction, that 
* Dempster's luck was forsaking him ' ; particularly Mrs. Linnet, 
who thought she saw distinctly the gradual ripening of a 
providential scheme, whereby a just retribution would be wrought 
on the man who had deprived her of Pye's Croft. On the other 
hand, Dempster's well-satisfied clients, who were of opinion that 
the punishment of his wickedness might conveniently be deferred 
to another world, noticed with some concern that he was drinking 
more than ever, and that both his temper and his driving were 

349 



350 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

becoming more furious. Unhappily those additional glasses of 
brandy, that exasperation of loud-tongued abuse, had other effects 
than any that entered into the contemplation of anxious clients : 
they were the little sui)eradded symbols that were perpetually 
raising the sum of home misery. 

Poor Janet ! how heavily the months rolled on for her, laden 
with fresh sorrows as the summer passed into autumn, the autumn 
into winter, and the winter into spring again. Every, feverish 
moniing, with its blank listlessness and despair, seemed more 
hateful than the last; every coming night more impossible to 
brave without arming herself in leaden stupor. The morning 
light brought no gladness to her : it seemed only to throw its 
glare on what had happened in the dim candle-light — on the 
cruel man seated immovable in drunken obstinacy by the dead 
fire and dying lights in the dining-room, rating her in harsh 
tones, reiterating old reproaches — or on a hideous blank of some- 
thing unremembered, something that must have made that dark 
bniise on her shoulder, which ached as she dressed herself. 

Do you wonder how it was that things had come to this pass 
—what oifence Janet had committed in the early years of 
marriage to rouse the brutal hatred of this man ? The seeds of 
things are very small : the hours that lie between sunrise and the 
gloom of midnight are travelled through by tiniest markings of 
the clock : and Janet, looking back along the fifteen years of her 
married life, hardly knew how or where this total misery began ; 
hardly knew when the sweet wedded love and hope that had set 
for ever had ceased to make a twilight of memory and relenting, 
before the on-coming of the utter dark. 

Old Mrs. Dempster thought she saw the true beginning of it 
all in Janet's want of housekeeping skill and exactness. * Janet,' 
she said to herself, * was always running about doing things for 
other j)pople, and neglecting her own house. That provokes a 
man : what use is it for a woman to be loving, and making a fuss 
with her husband, if she doesn't fake care and keep his home just 
as he likes it ; if she isn't at hand when he wants anything done ; 
if she doesn't attend to all his wishes, let them be as small as 
they may 1 That was what I did when I was a wife, though I 
didn't make half so much fuss about loving my husband. Then, 
Janet had no children.' ... Ah ! there Mammy Dempster had 
touched a true spring, not perhaps of her son's cruelty, but of 
half Janet's misery. If she had had babes to rock to sleep — 
little ones to kneel in their night-dress and say their prayers at her 
knees — sweet boys and girls to put their young arms round her 
neck and kiss away her tears, her poor hungry heart would have 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 351 

been fed with strong love, and might never have needed that fiery- 
poison to still its cravings. Mighty is the force of motherhood ! 
says the great tragic poet to us across the ages, finding, as usual, 
the simplest words for the sublimest fact — 8ctv6v rh riKTetv ea-riv. 
It transforms all things by its vital heat : it turns timidity into 
fierce courage, and dreadless defiance into tremulous submission ; 
it turns thoughtlessness into foresight, and yet stills all anxiety 
into calm content ; it makes selfishness become self-denial, and 
gives even to hard vanity the glance of admiring love. Yes ; if 
Janet had been a mother, she might have been saved from much 
sin, and therefore from much of her sorrow. 

But do not believe that it was anything either present or 
wanting in poor Janet that formed the motive of her husband's 
cruelty. Cruelty, like every other .vice, requires no motive out- 
side itself — it only requires opportunity. You do not suppose 
Dempster had any motive for drinking beyond the craving for 
drink ; the presence of brandy was the only necessary condition. 
And an unloving, tyrannous, brutal man needs no motive to 
prompt his cruelty : he needs only the perpetual presence of a 
woman he can call his own. A whole park full of tame or timid- 
eyed animals to torment at his will would not serve him so well to 
glut his lust of torture ; they could not feel as one woman does ; 
they could not throw out the keen retort which whets the edge of 
hatred. 

Janet's bitterness would overflow in ready words ; she was not 
to be made meek by cruelty ; she would repent of nothing in the 
face of injustice, though she was subdued in a moment by a word 
or a look that recalled the old days of fondness ; and in times of 
comparative calm would often recover her sweet woman's habit of 
caressing playful affection. But such days were become rare, and 
poor Janet's soul was kept like a vexed sea, tossed by a new 
storm before the old waves have fallen. Proud, angry resistance 
and sullen endurance were now almost the only alternations she 
knew. She would bear it all proudly to the world, but proudly 
towards him too ; her woman's weakness might shriek a cry for 
pity under a heavy blow, but voluntarily she would do nothing to 
mollify him, unless he first relented. AVhat had she ever done to 
him but love him too well — but believe in him too foolishly 1 He 
had no pity on her tender flesh ; he could strike the soft neck he 
had once asked to kiss. Yet she would not admit her wretchedness ; 
she had married him blindly, and she would bear it out to the 
terrible end, whatever that might be. Better this misery than 
the blank that lay for her outside her married home. 

But there was one person who heard all the plaints and all the 



352 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

outbursts of bitterness and despair which Janet was never tempted 
to pour into any other ear ; and alas ! in her worst moments, 
Janet would throw out wild reproaches against that patient 
listener. For the wrong that rouses our angry passions finds only 
a medium in us ; it passes through us like a vibration, and we 
inflict what we have suffered. 

Mrs. Raynor saw too clearly all through the winter that things 
were getting worse in Orchard Street. She had evidence enough 
of it in Janet's visits to her ; and, though her own visits to her 
daughter were so timed that she saw little of Dempster ijersonally, 
she noticed many indications not only that he was drinking to 
greater excess, but that he was beginning to lose that physical 
power of supporting excess which had long been the admiration of 
such fine spirits as Mr. Tomliuson. It seemed as if Dempster had 
some consciousness of this — some new distrust of himself; for, 
before winter was over, it was observed that he had renounced his 
habit of driving out alone, and was never seen in his gig without 
a servant by his side. 

Nemesis is lame, but she is of colossal stature, like the gods : 
and sometimes, while her sword is not yet unsheathed, she stretches 
out her huge left arm and grasps her victim. The mighty hand is 
invisible, but the victim totters under the dire clutch. 

The various symptoms that things were getting worse with the 
Dempsters afforded Milby gossip something new to say on an 
old subject. Mrs. Dempster, every one remarked, looked more 
miserable than ever, though she kept up the old pretence of being 
happy and satisfied. She was scarcely ever seen, as she used to 
be, going about on her good-natured en*ands ; and even old Mrs. 
Crewe, who had always been wilfully blind to anything wrong 
in her favourite Janet, was obliged to admit that she had not 
seemed like herself lately. * The poor thing's out of health,' said 
the kind little old lady, in answer to all gossip about Janet ; * her 
headaches always were bad, and I know what headaches are ; 
why, they make one quite delirious sometimes.' Mrs. Phipps, for 
her part, declared she would never accept an invitation to 
Dempster's again ; it was getting so very disagreeable to go there, 
Mrs. Dempster was often * so strange.' To be sure, there were 
dreadful stories about the way Dempster used his wife ; but in 
Mrs. Phipps's opinion, it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the 
other. Mrs. Dempster had never been like other women; she 
had always a flighty way with her, carrying parcels of snuff to old 
Mrs. Tooke, and going to drink tea with Mrs. Brinley, the 
carpenter's wife ; and then never taking care of her clothes, always 
wearing the same things week-day or Sunday. A man has a poor 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 353 

look-out with a wife of that sort. Mr. Phipps, amiable and 
laconic, wondered how it was women were so fond of running each 
other down. 

Mr. Pratt, having been called in provisionally to a patient of 
Mr. Pilgrim's in a case of compound fracture, observed in a friendly 
colloquy with his brother surgeon the next day — 

* So Dempster has left oif driving himself, I see ; he won't end 
with a broken neck after all. You'll have a case of meningitis 
and delirium tremens instead.' 

* Ah,' said Mr. Pilgrim, * he can hardly stand it much longer at 
the rate he's going on, one would think. He's been confoundedly 
cut up about that business of Armstrong's, I fancy. It may do 
him some harm, perhaps, but Dempster must have feathered his 
nest pretty well ; he can afford to lose a little business. 

* His business will outlast him, that's pretty clear,' said Pratt ; 
' he'll run down like a watch with a broken spring one of these 
days.' 

Another prognostic of evil to Dempster came at the beginning 
of March. For then little * Mamsey ' died — died suddenly. The 
housemaid found her seated motionless in her arm-chair, her 
knitting fallen down, and the tortoise-shell cat reposing on it 
unreproved. The little white old woman had ended her wintry 
age of patient sorrow, believing to the last that * Robert might 
have been a good husband as he had been a good son.' 

When the earth was thrown on Mamsey's cofl&n, and the son, 
in crape scarf and hatband, turned away homeward, his good 
angel, lingering with outstretched wing on the edge of the grave, 
cast one despairing look after him, and took flight for ever. 



2a 



CHAPTER XIV 

The last week in March — three weeks after old Mrs. Dempster 
died — occurred the unpleasant winding-up of aflFairs between 
Dempster and Mr. Pryme, and under this additional source of 
irritation the attorney's diurnal drunkenness had taken on its 
most ill-tempered and brutal phase. On the Friday morning, 
before setting out for Rot her by, he told his wife that he had 
invited * four men ' to dinner at half-past six that evening. The 
previous night had been a terrible one for Janet, and when her 
husband l)roke his grim morning silence to say these few words, 
she was looking so blank and listless that he added in a loud 
sharp key, * Do you hear what I say ? or must I tell the cook 1 ' 
She started, and said, * Yes, I hear.' 

* Then mind and have a dinner provided, and don't go mooning 
about like crazy Jane.' 

Half an hour afterwards Mrs. Raynor, quietly busy in her kitchen 
with her household labours — for she had only a little twelve-year-old 
girl as a siervant— h rd with trembling the rattling of the garden 
gate aiif ^4iq open of the outer door. She knew the step, and in 
one sliQF : moment e lived beforehand through the coming scene. 
She hun ied out oi the kitchen, and there in the passage, as she 
had feltjT. stood Janet, her eyes worn as if by night-long watching, 
her drei ; careless, her step languid. No cheerful morning greeting 
to her .^ther — no kiss. She turned into the parlour, and, seating 
herself ^.he sofa opposite her mother's chair, looked vacantly at 
the waj . and furniture until the corners of her mouth began to 
trembl* {ind her dark eyes filled with tears that fell unwiped 
down h cheeks. The mother sat silently opposite to her, afraid 
to speak/; She felt sure there was nothing new the matter — sure 
that the torrent of words would come sooner or later. 

* Mother ! why don't you speak to me T Janet burst out at 
last ; * you don't care about my suffering ; you are blaming me 
because I feel — because I am miserable.' 

* My child, I am not blaming you — my heart is bleeding for 

354 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 355 

you. Your head is bad this morning — you have had a bad night. 
Let me make you a cup of tea now. Perhaps you didn't like 
your breakfast.' 

* Yes, that is what you always think, mother. It is the old 
story, you think. You don't ask me what it is I have had to 
bear. You are tired of hearing me. You are cruel, like the rest ; 
every one is cruel in this world. Nothing but blame — blame — 
blame ; never any pity. God is cruel to have sent me into the 
world to bear all this misery.' 

'Janet, Janet, don't say so. It is not for us to judge; we 
must submit ; we must be thankful for the gift of life.' 

'Thankful for life? Why should I be thankful? God has 
made me with a heart to feel, and He has sent me nothing but 
misery. How could I help it ? How could I know what would 
come ? Why didn't you tell me, mother ? — why did you let me 
marry ? You knew what brutes men could be ; and there's no 
help for me — no hope. I can't kill myself; I've tried; but I 
can't leave this world and go to another. There may be no pity 
for me there, as there is none here.' 

* Janet, my child, there is pity. Have I ever done anything 
but love you ? And there is pity in God. Hasn't He put pity 
into your heart for many a poor sufferer? Where did it come 
from, if not from Him ? ' 

Janet's nervous irritation now broke out into sobs instead of 
complainings ; and her mother was thankful, for after that crisis 
there would very likely come relenting, and tenderness, and 
comparative calm. She went out to make some tea, and when 
she returned with the tray in her hands, Jane* Jiad dried hor eyes 
and now turned them towards her mother with -faint att »Aipt to 
smile ; but the poor face, in its sad blurred bea ' y, looked ti'l the 
more piteous. ' ' i 

* Mother will insist upon her tea,' she said, * and I realh think 
I can drink a cup. But I must go home directly, for t\ ^e are 
people coming to dinner. Could you go with me and ^ ) me, 
mother ? ' 

Mrs. Raynor was always ready to do that. She "v it to 
Orchard Street with Janet, and remained with her thro^ i the 
day — comforted, as evening approached, to see her becon more 
cheerful and willing to attend to her toilette. At half-p st five 
everything was in order; Janet was dressed; and, when the 
mother had kissed her and said good-bye, she could not help 
pausing a moment in sorrowful admiration at the tall rich figure, 
looking all the grander for the plainness of the deep mourning 
dress, and the noble face with its massy folds of black hair, made 



356 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

matronly by a simple white cap. Janet had that enduring beauty 
which belongs to pure majestic outline and depth of tint. Sorrow 
and neglect leave their traces on such beauty, but it thrills us to 
the last, like a glorious Greek temple, which, for all the loss it 
has suffered from time and barbarous hands, has gained a solemn 
history, and fills our imagination the more because it is incomplete 
to the sense. 

It was six o'clock before Dempster returned from Rotherby. 
He had evidently drunk a great deal, and was in an angry humour ; 
but Janet, who had gathered some little courage and forbearance 
from the consciousness that she had done her best to-day, was 
determined to speak pleasantly to him. 

* Kobert,' she said gently, as she saw him seat himself in the 
dining-room in his dusty snuflfy clothes, and take some documents 
out of his pocket, * will you not wash and change your dress ? It 
will refresh you.' 

* Leave me alone, will you ? ' said Dempster, in his most brutal 
tone. 

* Do change your coat and waistcoat, they are so dusty. I've 
laid all your things out ready.' 

* Oh, you have, have you 1 ' After a few minutes he rose very 
deliberately and walked upstairs into his bedroom. Janet had 
often been scolded before for not laying out his clothes, and she 
thought now, not without some wonder, that this attention of 
hers had brought him to compliance. 

Presently he called out, * Janet ! ' and she went upstairs. 

* Here ! take that ! ' he said, as soon as she reached the door, 
flinging at her the coat she had laid out. * Another time, leave 
me to do as I please, will you 1 ' 

The coat, flung with great force, only brushed her shoulder, 
and fell some distance within the drawing-room, the door of which 
stood open just opposite. She hastily retreated as she saw the 
waistcoat coming, and one by one the clothes she had laid out 
were all flung into the drawing-room. 

Janet's face flushed with anger, and for the first time in her 
life her resentment overcame the long-cherished pride that made 
her hide her griefs from the world. There are moments when by 
some strange impulse we contradict our past selves — fatal moments, 
when a fit of passion, like a lava stream, lays low the work of 
half our lives. Janet thought, * I will not pick up the clothes ; 
they shall lie there until the visitors come, and he shall be 
ashamed of himself.' 

There was a knock at the door, and she made haste to seat 
herself in the drawing-room, lest the servant should enter and 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 357 

remove the clothes, which were lying half on the table and half 
on the ground. Mr. Lowme entered with a less familiar visitor, 
a client of Dempster's, and the next moment Dempster himself 
came in. 

His eye fell at once on the clothes, and then turned for an 
instant with a devilish glance of concentrated hatred on Janet, 
who, still flushed and excited, affected unconsciousness. After 
shaking hands with his visitors he immediately rang the bell. 

' Take those clothes away,' he said to the servant, not looking 
at Janet again. 

During dinner she kept up her assumed air of indifference, 
and tried to seem in high spirits, laughing and talking more than 
usual. In reality, she felt as if she had defied a wild beast within 
the four walls of his den, and he was crouching backward in 
preparation for his deadly spring. Dempster affected to take no 
notice of her, talked obstreperously, and drank steadily. 

About eleven the party dispersed, with the exception of Mr. 
Budd, who had joined them after dinner, and appeared disposed 
to stay drinking a little longer. Janet began to hope that he 
would stay long enough for Dempster to become heavy and stupid, 
and so to fall asleep downstairs, which was a rare but occasional 
ending of his nights. She told the servants to sit up no longer, 
and she herself undressed and went to bed, trying to cheat her 
imagination into the belief that the day was ended for her. But 
when she lay down, she became more intensely awake than ever. 
Everything she had taken this evening seemed only to stimulate 
her senses and her apprehensions to new vividness. Her heart 
beat violently, and she heard every sound in the house. 

At last, when it was twelve, she heard Mr. Budd go out ; she 
heard the door slam. Dempster had not moved. Was he asleep i 
Would he forget 1 The minute seemed long, while, with a quicken- 
ing pulse, she was on the stretch to catch every sound. 

* Janet ! ' The loud jarring voice seemed to strike her like a 
hurled weapon. 

* Janet ! ' he called again, moving out of the dining-room to 
the foot of the stairs. 

There was a pause of a minute. 

^ If you don't come, I'll kill you.' 

Another pause, and she heard him turn back into the dining- 
room. He was gone for a light — perhaps for a weapon. Perhaps 
he wovZd kill her. Let him. Life was as hideous as death. For 
years she had been rushing on to some unknown but certain horror ; 
and now she was close upon it. She was almost glad. She was in a 
state of flushed feverish defiance that neutralised her woman's terrors. 



358 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

She heard his heavy step on the stairs ; she saw the slowly- 
advancing light. Then she saw the tall massive figure, and the 
heavy face, now fierce with drunken rage. He had nothing but 
the candle in his hand. He set it down on the table, and 
advanced close to the bed. 

* So you think you'll defy me, do you ? Well see how long 
that will last. Get up, madam ; out of bed this instant ! ' 

In the close presence of the dreadful man — of this huge 
crashing force, armed with savage will — poor Janet's desperate 
defiance all forsook her, and her terrors came back. Trembling she 
got up, and stood helpless in her night-dress before her husband. 

He seized her with his heavy grasp by the shoulder, and 
pushed her before him. 

' I'll cool your hot spirit for you ! I'll teach you to 
brave me ! ' 

Slowly he pushed her along before him, downstairs and 
through the passage, where a small oil-lamp was still flickering. 
What was he going to do to her ? She thought every moment he 
was going to dash her before him on the ground. But she gave 
no scream — she only trembled. 

He pushed her on to the entrance, and held her firmly in his 
grasp while he lifteil the latch of the door. Then he opened the 
door a little way, thrust her out, and slammed it behind her. 

For a short space, it seemed like a deliverance to Janet. The 
harsh north-east wind, that blew through her thin night-dress, 
and sent her long heavy black hair streaming, seemed like the 
breath of pity after the grasp of that threatening monster. But 
soon the sense of release from an overpowering terror gave way 
before the sense of the fate that had really come upon her. 

This, then, was what she had been travelling towards through 
her long years of misery ! Not yet death. Oh ! if she had been 
brave enough for it, death would have been better. The servants 
slept at the back of the house ; it was impossible to make them 
hear, so that they might let her in again quietly, without her 
husband's knowledge. And she would not have tried. He had 
thrust her out, and it should be for ever. 

There would have been dead silence in Orchard Street but for 
the whistling of the wind and the swirling of the March dust on 
the pavement. Thick clouds covered the sky ; every door was 
closed ; every window was dark. No ray of light fell on the tall 
white figure that stood in lonely misery on the door-step ; no eye 
rested on Janet as she sank down on the cold stone, and looked 
into the dismal night. She seemed to be looking into her own 
blank future. 



CHAPTER XV 

The stony street, the bitter north-east wind and darkness — and 
in the midst of them a tender woman thmst out from her 
husband's home in her thin night-dress, the harsh wind cutting 
her naked feet, and driving her long hair away from her half-clad 
bosom, where the poor heart is crushed with anguish and despair. 

The drowning man, urged by the supreme agony, lives in an 
instant through all his happy and unhappy past : when the dark 
flood has fallen like a curtain, memory, in a single moment, sees 
the drama acted over again. And even in those earlier crises, 
which are but types of death — when we are cut off abruptly from 
the life we have known, when we can no longer expect to-morrow 
to resemble yesterday, and find ourselves by some sudden shock 
on the confines of the unknown — there is often the same sort of 
lightning-flash through the dark and unfrequented chambers of 
memory. 

When Janet sat down shivering on the door-stone, with the 
door shut upon her past life, and the future black and unshapen 
before her as the night, the scenes of her childhood, her youth 
and her painful womanhood, rushed back upon her consciousness, 
and made one picture with her present desolation. The petted 
child taking her newest toy to bed with her — the young girl, 
proud in strength and beauty, dreaming that life was an easy 
thing, and that it was pitiful weakness to be unhappy — the 
bride, passing with trembling joy from the outer court to the 
inner sanctuary of woman's life — the wife, beginning her initiation 
into sorrow, wounded, resenting, yet still hoping and forgiving 
— the poor bruised woman, seeking through weary years the one 
refuge of despair, oblivion : — Janet seemed to herself all these in 
the same moment that she was conscious of being seated on the 
cold stone under the shock of a new misery. All her early 
gladness, all her bright hopes and illusions, all her gifts of beauty 
and aflection, served only to darken the riddle of her life ; they 
were the betraying promises of a cruel destiny which had brought 

359 



360 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

out those sweet blossoms only that the winds and storms might 
have a greater work of desolation, which had nursed her like a 
pet fawn into tenderness and fond expectation, only that she 
might feel a keener terror in the clutch of the panther. Her 
mother had sometimes said that troubles were sent to make us 
better and draw us nearer to God. What mockery that seemed 
to Janet ! Her troubles had been sinking her lower from year to 
year, pressing upon her like heavy fever -laden vapours, and 
perverting the very plenitude of her nature into a deeper source of 
disease. Her wretchedness had been a perpetually tightening 
instrument of torture, which had gradually absorbed all the other 
sensibilities of her nature into the sense of pain and the maddened 
craving for relief. Oh, if some ray of hope, of pity, of consolation, 
would pierce through the horrible gloom, she might believe then 
in a Divine love — in a heavenly Father who cared for His 
children I But now she had no faith, no trust. There was 
nothing she could lean on in the wide world, for her mother 
was only a fellow -suflferer in her own lot. The poor patient 
woman could do little more than mourn with her daughter : she 
had humble resignation enough to sustain her own soul, but she 
could no more give comfort and fortitude to Janet, than the 
withered ivy-covered trunk can bear up its strong, full-boughed 
offspring crashing down under an Alpine storm. Janet felt she 
was alone : no human soul had measured her anguish, had under- 
stood her self-despair, had entered into her sorrows and her sins 
with that deep-sighted sympathy which is wiser than all blame, 
more potent than all reproof — such sympathy as had swelled her 
own heart for many a suflferer. And if there was any Divine 
Pity, she could not feel it ; it kept aloof from her, it poured no 
balm into her wounds, it stretched out no hand to bear up her 
weak resolve, to fortify her fainting courage. 

Now, in her utmost loneliness, she shed no tear : she sat 
staring fixedly into the darkness, while inwardly she gazed at her 
own past, almost losing the sense that it was her own, or that she 
was anything more than a spectator at a strange and dreadful play. 

The loud sound of the church clock, striking one, startled her. 
She had not been there more than half an hour, then ? And it 
seemed to her as if she had been there half the night. She was 
getting benumbed with cold. With that strong instinctive dread of 
pain and death which had made her recoil from suicide, she started 
up, and the disagreeable sensation of resting on her benumbed 
feet helped to recall her completely to the sense of the present. 
The wind was beginning to make rents in the clouds, and there 
came every now and then a dim light of stars that frightened 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 861 

lier more than the darkness ; it was like a cruel finger pointing her 
out in her wretchedness and humiliation ; it made her shudder at 
the thought of the morning twilight. What could she do ? Not 
go to her mother — not rouse her in the dead of night to tell her 
this. Her mother would think she was a spectre ; it would be 
enough to kill her with horror. And the way there was so 
long ... if she should meet some one . . . yet she must seek 
some shelter, somewhere to hide herself. Five doors oflf there 
was Mrs. Pettifer's ; that kind woman would take her in. It 
was of no use now to be proud and mind about the world's 
knowing : she had nothing to wish for, nothing to care about ; 
only she could not help shuddering at the thought of braving the 
morning light, there in the street — she was frightened at the 
thought of spending long hours in the cold. Life might mean 
anguish, might mean despair ; but — oh, she must clutch it, though 
with bleeding fingers ; her feet must cling to the firm earth that 
the sunlight would revisit, not slip into the untried abyss, where 
she might long even for familiar pains. 

Janet trod slowly with her naked feet on the rough pavement, 
trembling at the fitful gleams of starlight, and supporting herself 
by the wall, as the gusts of wind drove right against her. The 
very wind was cruel : it tried to push her back from the door 
where she wanted to go and knock and ask for pity. 

Mrs. Pettifer's house did not look into Orchard Street : it 
stood a little way up a wide passage which opened into the street 
through an archway. Janet turned up the archway, and saw a 
faint light coifaing from Mrs. Pettifer's bedroom window. The 
glimmer of a rushlight from a room where a friend was lying was 
like a ray of mercy to Janet, after that long, long time of 
darkness and loneliness ; it would not be so dreadful to awake 
Mrs. Pettifer as she had thought. Yet she lingered some minutes 
at the door before she gathered courage to knock ; she felt as if 
the sound must betray her to others besides Mrs. Pettifer, though 
there was no other dwelling that opened into the passage — only 
warehouses and outbuildings. There was no gravel for her to 
throw up at the window, nothing but heavy pavement ; there 
was no door-bell ; she must knock. Her first rap was very timid 
— one feeble fall of the knocker ; and then she stood still again 
for many minutes ; but presently she rallied her courage and 
knocked several times together, not loudly, but rapidly, so that 
Mrs. Pettifer, if she only heard the sound, could not mistake it. 
And she had heard it, for by and by the casement of her window 
was opened, and Janet perceived that she was bending out to try 
and discern who it was at the door. 



362 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* It is I, Mrs. Pettifer ; it is Janet Dempster. Take me in, 
for pity's sake.' 

* Merciful God ! what has happened ? ' 

* Robert has turned me out. I have been in the cold a 
long while.' 

Mrs. Pettifer said no more, but hurried away from the window, 
and was soon at the door with a light in her hand. 

* Come in, my poor dear, come in,' said the good woman in a 
tremulous voice, drawing Janet within the door. * Come into my 
warm bed, and may God in heaven save and comfort you.' 

The pitying eyes, the tender voice, the warm touch, caused a 
rush of new feeling in Janet. Her heart swelled, and she burst 
out suddenly, like a child, into loud passionate sobs. Mrs. 
Pettifer could not help crying with her, but she said, * Come 
upstairs, my dear, come. Don't linger in the cold.' 

She drew the poor sobbing thing gently upstairs, and persuaded 
her to get into the warm bed. But it was long before Janet 
could lie down. She sat leaning her head on her knees, convulsed 
by sobs, while the motherly woman covered her with clothes and 
held her arms round her to comfort her with warmth. At last 
the hysterical passion had exhausted itself, and she fell back on 
the pillow ; but her throat was still agitated by piteous after-sobs, 
such as shake a little child even when it has found a refuge from 
its alarms on its mother's lap. 

Now Janet was getting quieter, Mrs. Pettifer determined to 
go down and make a cup of tea, the first thing a kind old woman 
thinks of as a solace and restorative under all calamities. Happily 
there was no danger of awaking her servant, a heavy girl of 
sixteen, who was snoring blissfully in the attic, and might be 
kept ignorant of the way in which Mrs. Dempster had come in. 
So Mrs. Pettifer busied herself with rousing the kitchen fire, 
which was kept in under a huge ' raker ' — a possibility by which 
the coal of the midland counties atones for all its slowness and 
white ashes. 

When she carried up the tea, Janet was lying quite still ; the 
spasmodic agitation had ceased, and she seemed lost in thought ; 
her eyes were fixed vacantly on the rushlight shade, and all the 
lines of sorrow were deepened in her faco. 

' Now, my dear,' said Mrs. Pettifer, * let me persuade you to 
drink a cup of tea ; you'll find it warm you and soothe you very 
much. Why, dear heart, your feet are like ice still. Now, do 
drink this tea, and I'll wrap 'em up in flannel, and then they'll 
get warm.' 

Janet turned her dark eyes on her old friend and stretched out 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 363 

her arms. She was too much oppressed to say anything; her 
suffering lay like a heavy weight on her power of speech ; but she 
wanted to kiss the good kind woman. Mrs. Pettifer, setting 
down the cup, bent towards the sad beautiful face, and Janet 
kissed her with earnest sacramental kisses — such kisses as seal a 
new and closer bond between the helper and the helped. 

She drank the tea obediently. * It does wann me,' she said. 
* But now you will get into bed. I shall lie still now.' 

Mrs. Pettifer felt it was the best thing she could do to lie 
down quietly and say no more. She hoped Janet might go to 
sleep. As for herself, with that tendency to wakefulness common 
to advanced years, she found it impossible to compose herself to 
sleep again after this agitating surprise. She lay listening to the 
clock, wondering what had led to this new outrage of Dempster's, 
praying for the poor thing at her side, and pitying the mother who 
would have to hear it all to-morrow. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Janet lay still, as she had promised ; but the tea, which had 
warmed her and given her a sense of greater bodily ease, had only 
heightened the previous excitement of her brain. Her ideas bad 
a new vividness, which made her feel as if she had only seen life 
through a dim haze before ; her thoughts, instead of springing from 
the action of her own mind, were external existences, that thrust 
themselves imperiously upon her like haunting visions. The future 
took shape after shape of misery before her, always en3Ingln"hBr 
being dragged back again to her old life of terror, and stupor, and 
fevered despair. Her husband had so long overshadowed her life 
that her imagination could not keep hold of a condition in which 
that great dread was absent ; and even his absence-^what was 
it 1 only a dreary vacant flat, where there was nothing to strive 
after, nothing to long for. 

At last the light of morning quenched the rushlight, and 
Janet's thoughts became more and more fragmentary and con- 
fused. She was every moment slipping oft' the level on 
which she lay thinking, down, down into some depth from 
which she tried to rise again with a start. Slumber was 
stealing over her weary brain ; that uneasy slumber which is 
only better than wretched waking, because the life we seemed 
to live in it determines no wretched future, because the things 
we do and suft*er in it are but hateful shadows, and leave no 
impress that petrifies into an irrevocable past. 

She had scarcely been asleep an hour when her movements 
became more violent, her mutterings more frequent and agitated, 
till at last she started up with a smothered cry, and looked wildly 
round her, shaking with terror. 

* Don't be frightened, dear Mrs. Dempster,' said Mrs. Pettifer, 
who was up and dressing ; * you are with me, your old friend, 
Mrs. Pettifer. Nothing will harm you.' 

Janet sank back again on her pillow, still trembling. After 
lying silent a little while, she said, * It was a horrible dream. 

364 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 365 

Dear Mrs. Pettifer, don't let any one know I am here. Keep it 
a secret. If he finds out, he will come and drag me back 
again.' 

' No, my dear, depend on me. IVe just thought I shall send 
the servant home on a holiday — IVe promised her a good while. 
I'll send her away as soon as she's had her breakfast, and she'll 
have no occasion to know you're here. There's no holding 
servants' tongues, if you let 'em know anything. What they don't 
know, they won't tell ; you may trust 'em so far. But shouldn't 
you like me to go and fetch your mother ? ' 

' No, not yet, not yet. I can't bear to see her yet.' 

* Well, it shall be just as you like. Now try and get to sleep 
again. I shall leave you for an hour or two, and send off Phoebe, 
and then bring you some breakfast. I'll lock the door behind me, 
so that the girl mayn't come in by chance.' 

The daylight changes the aspect of misery to us, as of 
everything else. In the night it presses on our imagination — the 
foruLS it takes are false, fitful, exaggerated; in broad day it 
sickens our sense with the dreary persistence of definite measurable 
^reality. The man who looks with ghastly horror on all his 
property aflame in the dead of night has not half the sense of 
destitution he will have in the morning, when he walks over the 
ruins lying blackened in the pitiless sunshine. That moment of . , 
intensest depression was come to Janet, when the daylight which A 
showed her the walls, and chairs, and tables, and all the conmion- 
place reality that surrounded her, seemed to lay bare the future 
too, and bring out into oppressive distinctness all the details of a 
weary life to be lived from day to day, with no hope to strengthen 
her against that evil habit, which she loathed in retrospect and 
yet was powerless to resist. Her husband would never consent to 
her living away from him : she was become necessary to his tyranny ; 
he would never willingly loosen his grasp on her. She had a 
vague notion of some protection the law might give her, if she 
could prove her life in danger from him ; but she shrank utterly, 
as she had always done, from any active, public resistance or 
vengeance : she felt too crushed, too faulty, too liable to reproach, 
to have the courage, even if she had had the wish, to put herself 
openly in the position of a wronged woman seeking redress. She 
had no strength to sustain her in a course of self-defence and inde- 
pendence : there was a darker shadow over her life than the dread 
of her husband — it was the shadow of self-despair. The easiest 
thing would be to go away and hide herself from him. But then 
there was her mother : Robert had all her little property in his 
hands, and that little was scarcely enough to keep her in comfort 



366 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

without his aid. If Janet went away alone he would be sure to 
j)ersecute her mother ; and if she did go away — what then 1 She 
must work to maintain herself ; she must exert herself, weary and 
hopeless as she was, to begin life afresh. How hard that seemed 
to her ! Janet's nature did not belie her grand face and form : 
there was energy, there was strength in it ; but it was the 
strength of the vine, which must have its broad leaves and rich 
clusters borne up by a firm stay. And now she had nothing to 
rest on — no faith, no love. If her mother had been very feeble, 
aged, or sickly, Janet's deep pity and tenderness might have made 
a daughter's duties an interest and a solace ; but Mrs. Raynor had 
never needed tendance ; she had always been giving help to her 
daughter ; she had always been a sort of humble ministering spirit ; 
and it was one of Janet's pangs of memory that, instead of being 
her mother's comfort, she had been her mother's trial. Every- 
where the same sadness ! Her life was a sun-dried, barren tract, 
where there was no shadow, and where all the waters were 
bitter. 

No ! She suddenly thought — and the thought was like an 
electric shock — there was one spot in her memory which seemed 
to promise her an untried spring, where the waters might be 
sweet. That short interview with Mr. Tryan had come back 
upon her — his voice, his words, his look, which told her 
that he knew sorrow. His words had implied that he thought 
V his death was near, yet he had a faith which enabled him 
to labour — enabled him to give comfort to others. That look 
of his came back on her with a vividness greater than it had had 
for her in reality : surely he knew more of the secrets of sorrow 
than other men ; perhaps he had some message of comfort, 
different from the feeble words she had been used to hear from 
others. She was tired, she was sick of that barren exhortation — 
Do right, and keep a clear conscience, and God will reward you, 
and your troubles will be easier to bear. She wanted strength 
to do right — she wanted something to rely on besides her own 
resolutions ; for was not the path behind her all strewn with 
broken resolutions ? How could she trust in new ones ? She had 
often heard Mr. Tryan laughed at for being fond of great sinners. 
She began to see a new meaning in those words ; he would 
perhaps understand her helplessness, her wants. If she could 
pour out her heart to him ! If she could for the first time in 
hej: life unlock all the chambers of her soul ! 

V The impulse to confession almost always requires the presence 
of a fresh ear and a fresh heart ; and, in our moments of spiritual 
need, the man to whom we have no tie but our common nature 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 367 

seems nearer to us than mother, brother, or friend. Our daily 
familiar life is but a hiding of ourselves from each other behind a 
screen of trivial words and deeds, and those who sit with us at 
the same hearth are often the farthest off from the deep human 
soul within us, full of unspoken evil and unacted good, j 

When Mrs. Pettifer came back to her, turning the key and 
opening the door very gently, Janet, instead of being asleep, as 
her good friend had hoped, was intensely occupied with her new 
thought. She longed to ask Mrs. Pettifer if she could see Mr. 
Tryan ; but she was arrested by doubts and timidity. He might 
not feel for her — he might be shocked at her confession — he might 
talk to her of doctrines she could not understand or believe. She 
could not make up her mind yet : but she was too restless under 
this mental struggle to remain in bed. 

* Mrs. Pettifer,' she said, * I can't lie here any longer ; I must 
get up. Will you lend me some clothes ? ' 

Wrapt in such drapery as Mrs. Pettifer could find for her tall 
figure, Janet went down into the little parlour, and tried to take 
some of the breakfast her friend had prepared for her. But her 
effort was not a successful one ; her cup of tea and bit of toast 
were only half finished. The leaden weight of discouragement 
pressed upon her more and more heavily. The wind had fallen, 
and a drizzling rain had come on ; there was no prospect from 
Mrs. Pettifer's parlour but a blank wall ; and as Janet looked out 
at the window, the rain and the smoke-blackened bricks seemed 
to blend themselves in sickening identity with her desolation of 
spirit and the headachy weariness of her body. 

Mrs. Pettifer got through her household work as soon as she 
could, and sat down with her sewing, hoping that Janet would 
perhaps be able to talk a little of what had passed, and find 
some relief by unbosoming herself in that way. But Janet could 
not speak to her ; she was importuned with the longing to see 
Mr. Tryan, and yet hesitating to express it. 

Two hours passed in this way. The rain went on drizzling, 
and Janet sat still, leaning her aching head on her hand, and 
looking alternately at the fire and out of the window. She felt 
this could not last — this motionless, vacant misery. She must 
determine on something, she must take some step ; and yet 
everything was so difficult. 

It was one o'clock, and Mrs. Pettifer rose from her seat, saying, 
* I must go and see about dinner.' 

The movement and the sound startled Janet from her reverie. 
It seemed as if an opportunity were escaping her, and she said 
hastily, * Is Mr. Tryan in the town to-day, do you think ? ' 



368 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

*No, I should think not, being Saturday, you know,' said 
Mrs. Pettifer, her face lighting up with pleasure ; * but he vjoiM 
come, if he was sent for. I can send Jesson's boy with a note 
to him any time. Should you like to see him % ' 

' Yes, I think I should.' 

' Then I'll send for him this instant.' 



CHAPTER XVII 

When Dempster awoke in the morning he was at no loss to 
account to himself for the fact that Janet was not by his side. 
His hours of drunkenness were not cut off from his other hours 
by any blank wall of oblivion ; he remembered what Janet had 
done to offend him the evening before, he remembered what he 
had done to her at midnight, just as he would have remembered 
if he had been consulted about a right of road. 

The remembrance gave him a definite ground for the extra 
ill-humour which had attended his waking every morning this 
week, but he would not admit to himself that it cost him 
any anxiety. * Pooh,' he said inwardly, * she would go straight 
to her mother's. She's as timid as a hare ; and she'll never let 
anybody know about it. She'll be back again before night.' 

But it would be as well for the servants not to know anything 
of the affair : so he collected the clothes she had taken off the 
night before, and threw them into a fire-proof closet of which he 
always kept the key in his pocket. When he went downstairs 
he said to the housemaid, * Mrs. Dempster is gone to her mother's ; 
bring in the breakfast.' 

The servants, accustomed to hear domestic broils, and to see 
their mistress put on her bonnet hastily and go to her mother's, 
thought it only something a little worse than usual that she 
should have gone thither in consequence of a violent quarrel, 
either at midnight, or in the early morning before they were up. 
The housemaid told the cook what she supposed had happened ; 
the cook shook her head and said, * Eh, dear, dear ! ' but they both 
expected to see their mistress back again in an hour or two. 

Dempster, on his return home the evening before, had ordered 
his man, who lived away from the house, to bring up his horse 
and gig from the stables at ten. After breakfast he said to the 
housemaid, * No one need sit up for me to night ; I shall not be 
at home till to-morrow evening ' ; and then he walked to the 
office to give some orders, expecting, as he returned, to see the 

369 2 b 



370 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

man waiting with his gig. But though the church clock had 
struck ten, no gig was there. In Dempster's mood this was 
more than enough to exasperate him. He went in to take his 
accustomed glass of brandy before setting out, promising himself 
the satisfaction of presently thundering at Dawes for being a few 
minutes behind his time. An outbreak of temper towards his 
man was not common with him ; for Dempster, like most 
tyrannous people, had that dastardly kind of self-restraint which 
enabled him to control his temper where it suited his own 
convenience to do so ; and feeling the value of Dawes, a steady 
punctual fellow, he not only gave him high wages, but usually 
treated him with exceptional civility. This morning, however, 
ill-humour got the better of prudence, and Dempster was 
determined to rate him soundly; a resolution for which Dawes 
gave him much better ground than he expected. Five ndnutes, 
ten minutes, a quarter of an hour, had passed, and Dempster was 
setting off to the stables in a back street, to see what was the 
cause of the delay, when Dawes appeared with the gig. 

* What the devil do you keep me here for,' thundered Dempster, 

* kicking my heels like a beggarly tailor waiting for a carrier's 
cart ? I ordered you to be here at ten. We might have driven 
to Whitlow by this time.' 

* Why, one o' the traces was weUy i' two,' an' I had to take it 
to Brady's to be mended, an' he didn't get it done i' time.' 

* Then why didn't you take it to him last night ? Because of 
your damned laziness, I suppose. Do you think I give you wages 
for you to choose your own hours, and come dawdling up a quarter 
of an hour after my time ? ' 

*Come, give me good words, will yer?' said Dawes, sulkily. 

* I'm not lazy, nor no man shall call me lazy. I know well anuff 
what you gi' me wages for ; it's for doin' what yer won't find 
many men as 'ull do.' 

' What ! you impudent scoundrel,' said Dempster, getting into 
the gig, *you think you're necessary to me, do you^ As if a 
beastly bucket-carrying idiot like you wasn't to be got any day. 
Look out for a new master, then, who'll pay you for not doing as 
you're bid.' 

Dawes's blood was now fairly up. ' I'll look out for a master 
as has got a better charicter nor a lyin', bletherin' drunkard, an' 
I shouldn't hev to go fur.' 

Dempster, furious, snatched the whip from the socket, and 
gave Dawes a cut which he meant to fall across his shoulders, 
saying, * Take that, sir, and go to hell with you ! ' 

Dawes was in the act of turning with the reins in his hand 



1 




When the lash /ell. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 373 

when the lash fell, and the cut went across his face. With white 
lips, he said, * I'll have the law on yer for that, lawyer as y'are,' 
and threw the reins on the horse's back. 

Dempster leaned forward, seized the reins, and drove off. 

* Why, there's your friend Dempster driving out without his 
man again,' said Mr. Luke Byles, who was chatting with Mr. 
Budd in the Bridge Way. * What a fool he is to drive that two- 
wheeled thing ! he'll get pitched on his head one of these days.' 

* Not he,' said Mr. Budd, nodding to Dempster as he passed ; 
'he's got nine lives, Dempster has.' 



CHAPTER XVIII 



It was dusk, and the candles were lighted before Mr. Tryan 
knocked at Mrs. Pettifer's door. Her messenger had brought 
back word that he was not at home, and all afteraoon Janet had 
been agitated by the fear that he would not come ; but as soon as 
that anxiety was removed by the knock at the door, she felt a 
sudden rush of doubt and timidity : she trembled and turned cold. I 

Mrs. Pettifer went to open the door, and told Mr. Tryan, in I 
as few words as possible, what had happened in the night. As I 
he laid down his hat and prepared to enter the parlour, she said, [ 
* I won't go in with you, for I think perhaps she would rather | 
see you go in alone.' 

Janet, wrapped up in a large white shawl which threw her dark! 
face into startling relief, was seated with her eyes turned I 
anxiously towards the door when Mr. Tryan entered. He had! 
not seen her since their interview at Sally Martin's long months I 
ago ; and he felt a strong movement of compassion at the sight I 
of the pain-stricken face which seemed to bear written on it the! 
signs of all Janet's intervening miseiy. Her heart gave a great! 
leap, as her eyes met his once more. No ! she had not deceivedl 
herself: there was all the sincerity, all the sadness, all the deepi 
pity in them her memory had told her of ; more than it had toldj 
her, for in proportion as his face had become thinner and more| 
worn, his eyes appeared to have gathered intensity. 

He came forward, and, putting out his hand, said, * I am sol 
glad you sent for me — I am so thankful you thought I could be I 
any comfort to you.' Janet took his hand in silence. She was! 
unable to utter any words of mere politeness, of even of gratitude J 
her heart was too full of other words that had welled up thel 
moment she met the pitying glance, and felt her doubts fall away. I 

They sat down opposite each other, and she said in a low! 
voice, while slow difficult tears gathered in her aching eyes — 

*l want to tell you how unhappy I am — how weak and I 
wicked. I feel no strength to live or die. I thought you could | 
tell me something that could help me.' She paused. 

374 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 375 

' Perhaps I can,' Mr. Tryan said, * for in Bpeaking to me you 
are speaking to a fellow-sinner who has needed just the comfort 
and help you are needing.' 

'And you did find it?' 

' Yes ; and I trust you will find it.' 

' Oh, I should like to be good and to do right,' Janet burst 
forth ; * but indeed, indeed, my lof has been a very hard one. I 
loved my husband very dearly when we were married, and I 
meant to make him happy — I wanted nothing else. But he 
began to be angry with me for little things and ... I don't 
want' to accuse him . . . but he drank and got more and 
more unkind to me, and then very cruel, and he beat me. 
And that cut me to the heart. It made me almost mad some- 
times to think all our love had come to that ... I couldn't bear 
up against it. I had never been used to drink anything but 
water. I hated wine and spirits be<:».use Kobert drank them so ; 
but one day when I was very wretohe^p^and the wine was standing 
on the table, I suddenly \ . . I can hardly remember how I came 
to do it . . . I poured some wine intd^i^lai^e glass and drank it. 
It blunted my feelings, and made aie moreiifdinerent. After that, 
the temptation was always coming, and it got stronger and stronger. 
I was ashamed, and 1 hated what I did ; tut' almost while the 
thought was passing through my mind that I would never do it 
again, I did it. It seemed as if there was a demon in me always 
making me rush to do what I longed not to do. And I thought 
all the more that God was cruel ; for if He had not sent me 
that dreadful trial, so much worse than other women have to 
bear, I should not have done wrong in that way. I suppose it is 
wicked to think so ... I feel as if there must be goodness aijd 
right above us, but I can't see it, I can't 'trust in it. And I have 
gone on in that way for years and years. At one tiftie it used to 
be better now and then, but everything has got worse lately : I 
felt sure it must soon end somehow. And last nighf he fumed . 
me out of doors ... I don't know what to d». I will never 
go back to that life again if I can help it j jind yet everything 
else seems so miserable. *I feel sure that demon^wjll be always 
urging me to satisfy the craving that comes upon me,', and the 
days will go on as they have done through all those miserable 
years. I shall always be doing wrong, and hating myseif after — 
sinking lower and lower, and knowiiig that I. am sinking. Oh, 
can you tell me any way of getting strength ? Have you ever 
known any one like me that got peace of mind and power to do 
right ? Can you give me any comfort— any hope ? ' « 

While Janet was speaking, she had fofgott^jge^rything but 



27« SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

her miisery and her yearning for comfort. Her voice bad risen 
from the low tone of timid distress to an intense pitch of 
imploring anguish. She clasped her hands ti^thr, and looked at 
Mr. Tryan with eairer questioning eyes, with parted trembling lips, 
with the deep horizontal lines of OTermastering pain on her broiw. 
In thii) artificial life of ours, it is not often we see a human htce 
with all a heart s agony in it, uncontrolled by self-consciousness ; 
when we do see it, it startles us as if we had suddenly waked into 
the real world of which this eTeryday one is but a puppet-sho^ir 
copy. For some moments Mr. Tryan was too deeply moTed to 
Kj)eak. 

* Yes, dear Mrs. Dempster,' he said at last, 'there m comfort, 
there is hope for you. Believe me there is, for I speak from my 
own deep and hard experience.' He paused, as if he had not made 
up his mind to utter the words that were urging themselves to 
his lips. Presently he continued, 'Ten years ago I felt as 
wretched as you do. I think my wretchedness was even worse 
than yours, for I had a heavier sin on my conscience. I had 
suffered no wrong from others as you have, and I had injured 
another irreparably in body and soul. The image of the wrong I 
had done pursued me everywhere, and I seemed on the brink of 
madness. I hated my life, for I thought, just as you do, that I 
should go on falling into temptation and doing more harm in the 
world ; and I dreaded death, for with that sense of guilt on my 
soul, I felt that whatever state I entered on must be one of 
misery. But a dear friend to whom I opened my mind showed 
me it was just such as I — the helpless who feel themselves 
helpless — that God specially invites to come to Him, and offers 
all the riches of His salvation : not forgiveness only ; forgiveness 
would be worth little if it left us under the powers of our evil 
passions ; but strength — that strength which enables us to 
conquer sin.' 

* But,' said Janet, * I can feel no trust in God. He seems 
always to have left me to myself. I have sometimes prayed to 
him to help me, and yet everything has been just the same as 
before. If you felt like me, how did you come to have hope 
and trust r 

* Do not believe that God has left you to yourself. How can 
you tell but that the hardest trials you have known have been 
only the road by which He was leading you to that complete sense 
of your own sin and helplessness, without which you would never 
have renounced all other hopes, and trusted in His love alone? 
I know, dear Mrs. Dempster, I know it is hard to bear. I would 
not speak lightly of your sorrows. I feel that the mystery of 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 377 

our life is great, and at one time it seemed as dark to me as it 
does to you/ Mr. Tryan hesitated again. He saw that the first 
thing Janet needed was to be assured of sympathy. She must 
be made to feel that her anguish was not strange to him ; that 
he entered into the only half-expressed secrets of her spiritual 
-weakness, before any other message of consolation could find its way 
to her heart. The tale of the Divine Pity was never yet believed 
from lips that were not felt to be moved by human pity. And 
Janet's anguish was not strange to Mr. Tryan. He had never 
been in the presence of a sorrow and a self-despair that had 
sent so strong a thrill through all the recesses of his saddest 
experience; and it is because sympathy is but a living again 
through our own past in a new form, that confession often 
prompts a response of confession. Mr. Tryan felt this prompting, 
and his judgment, too, told him that in obeying it he would be 
taking the best means of administering comfort to Janet. Yet 
he hesitated ; as we tremble to let in the daylight on a chamber 
of relics which we have never visited except in curtained silence. 
But the first impulse triumphed, and he went on. ' I had lived 
all my life at a distance from God. My youth was spent in 
thoughtless self-indulgence, and all my hopes were of a vain 
worldly kind. I had no thought of entering the Church ; I 
looked forward to a political career, for my father was private 
secretary to a man high in the Whig Ministry, and had been 
promised strong interest in my behalf. At college I lived in 
intimacy with the gayest men, even adopting follies and vices 
for which I had no taste out of mere pliancy, and the love of 
standing well with my companions. You see, I was more guilty even 
then than you have been, for I threw away all the rich blessings of 
untroubled youth and health ; I had no excuse in my outward 
lot. But while I was at college that event in my life occurred 
which in the end brought on the state of mind I have mentioned 
to you — the state of self-reproach and despair, which enables me 
to understand to the full what you are suffering ; and I tell you 
the facts, because I want you to be assured that I am not uttering 
mere vague words when I say that I have been raised from as low 
a depth of sin and sorrow as that in which you feel yourself to 
be. At college I had an attachment to a lovely girl of seventeen ; 
she was very much below my own station in life, and I never 
contemplated marrying her; but I induced her to leave her 
father's house. I did not mean to forsake her when I left college, 
and I quieted all scruples of conscience by promising myself that 
I would always take care of poor Lucy. But on my return from 
a vacation spent in travelling, I found that Lucy was gone — gone 



378 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

away with a gentleman, her neighbours said. I was a good deal 
distressed, but I tried to persuade myself that no harm would 
come to her. Soon afterwards I had an illness which left my health 
delicate, and made all dissipation distasteful to me. Life seemed 
f very wearisome and empty, and I looked with envy on every one 
who had some great and absorbing object — even on my cousin 
who was preparing to go out as a missionary, and whom I had 
been used to think a dismal, tedious person, because he was 
constantly urging religious subjects upon me. We were living in 
London then ; it was three years since I had lost sight of Lucy ; 
and one summer evening, about nine o'clock, as I was walking 
along Gower Street, I saw a knot of people on the causeway 
before me. As I came up to them, I heard one woman say, " I 
tell you she is dead." This awakened my interest, and I pushed 
my way within the circle. The body of a woman, dressed in fine 
clothes, was lying against a door-step. Her head was bent on 
one side, and the long curls had fallen over her cheek. A tremor 
seized me when I saw the hair : it was light chestnut — the colour 
of Lucy's. I knelt down and turned aside the hair ; it was Lucy 
— dead — with paint on her cheeks. I found out afterwards that 
she had taken poison — that she was in the power of a wicked 
woman — that the very clothes on her back were not her own. 
It was then that my past life burst upon me in all its hideousness. 
I wished I had never been bom. I couldn't look into the fntuj:e. 
Lucy's dead painted face would follow me there, as it did when I 
looked back into the past — as it did when I sat down to table 
with my friends, when I lay down in my bed, and when I rose 
up. There was only one thing that could make life tolerable to 
me ; that was, to spend all the rest of it in trying to save others 
from the ruin I had brought on one. But how was that possible 
for me ? I had no comfort, no strength, no wisdom in my own 
soul; how could I give them to others? My mind was dark, 
rebellious, at war with itself and with G-od.' 

Mr. Tryan had been looking away from Janet. His face was 
towards the fire, and he was absorbed in the images his memory 
was recalling. But now he turned his eyes on her, and they met 
hers, fixed on him with the look of rapt expectation, with which 
one clinging to a slippery summit of rock, while the waves are 
rising higher and higher, watches the boat that has put from 
shore to his rescue. 

* You see, Mrs. Dempster, how deep my need was. I went on 
in this way for months. I was convinced that if I ever got health 
and comfort, it must be from religion. I went to hear celebrated 
preachers, and I read religious books. But I found nothing that 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 379 

fitted my own need. The faith which puts the sinner in possession 
of salvation seemed, as I understood it, to be quite out of my 
reach, I had no faith ; I only felt utterly wretched, under the 
power of habits and dispositions which had wrought hideous 
evil. At last, as I told you, I found a friend to whom I opened 
all my feelings — to whom I confessed eveiything. He was a man 
who had gone through very deep experience, and could understand 
the different wants of different minds. He made it clear to me 
that the only preparation for coming to Christ and partaking of 
His salvation, was that very sense of guilt and helplessness which 
was weighing me down. He said, You are weary and heavy- 
laden ; well, it is you Christ invites to come to Him and find rest. 
He asks you to cling to Him, to lean on Him; He does not 
command you to walk alone without stumbling. He does not 
tell you, as your fellowmen do, that you must first merit His 
love ; He neither condemns nor reproaches you for the past, He 
only bids you come to Him that you may have life : He bids you 
stretch out your hands, and take of the fulness of His love. You 
have only to rest on Him as a child rests on its mother's arms, 
and you will be upborne by His divine strength. That is what 
is meant by faith. Your evil habits, you feel, are too strong for 
you ; you are unable to wrestle with them ; you know beforehand 
you shall fall. But when once we feel our helplessness in that 
way, and go to the Saviour, desiring to be freed from the power 
as well as the punishment of sin, we are no longer left to our own 
strength. As long as we live in rebellion against God, desiring 
to have our own will, seeking happiness in the things of this 
world, it is as if we shut ourselves up in a crowded stifling room, 
where we breathe only poisoned air ; but we have only to walk 
out under the infinite heavens, and we breathe the pure free air 
that gives us health, and strength, and gladness. It is just so 
with God's spirit : as soon as we submit ourselves to His will, as 
sooa as we desire to be united to Him, and made pure and holy, 
it is as if the walls had fallen down that shut us out from God, 
and we are fed with His spirit, which gives us new strength.' 

* That is what I want,' said Janet ; * I have left off minding 
about pleasure. I think I could be contented in the midst of 
hardship, if I felt that God cared for me, and would give me 
strength to lead a pure life. But tell me, did you soon find peace 
and strength 1 ' 

* Not perfect peace for a long while, but hope and trust, which 
is strength. No sense of pardon for myself could do away with 
the pain I had in thinking what I had helped to bring on another. 
My friend used to urge upon me that my sin against God was 



380 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

greater than my sin against her ; but — it may be from want of 
deeper spiritual feeling — that has remained to this hour the sin 
which causes me the bitterest pang. I could never rescue Lucy ; 
but by God's blessing I might rescue other weak and falling 
souls ; and that was why I entered the Church. I asked for 
nothing through the rest of my life but that I might be devoted 
to God's work, without swerving in search of pleasure either to 
the right hand or to the left. It has been often a hard struggle 
— but God has been with me— and perhaps it may not last much 
longer.' 

Mr. Tryan paused. For a moment he had forgotten Janet, 
and for a moment she had forgotten her own sorrows. When she 
recurred to herself, it was with a new feeling. 

* Ah, what a difference between our lives ! you have been 
choosing pain, and working, and denying yourself; and I have 
been thinking only of myself I was only angry and discontented 
because I had pain to bear. You never had that wicked feeling 
that I have had so often, did you ? that God was cruel to send 
me trials and temptations worse than others have.' 

* Yes, I had ; I had very blasphemous thoughts, and I know 
that spirit of rebellion must have made the worst part of your 
lot. You did not feel how impossible it is for us to judge rightly 
of God's dealings, and you opposed yourself to His will. But what 
do we know? We cannot foretell the working of the smallest 
event in our own lot ; how can we presume to judge of things 
that are so much too high for us ? There is nothing that becomes 
us but entire submission, perfect resignation. As long as we set 
up our own will and our own wisdom against God's, we make that 
wall between us and His love which I have spoken of just now. 
But as soon as we lay ourselves entirely at His feet, we have 
enough light given us to guide our own steps ; as the foot- 
soldier who hears nothing of the councils that determine the 
course of the great battle he is in, hears plainly enough the ^word 
of command which he must himself obey. I know, dear Mrs. 
Dempster, I know it is hard — the hardest thing of all, perhaps — 
to flesh and blood. But cany that difficulty to the Saviour 
along with all your other sins and weaknesses, and ask Him to 
pour into you a spirit of submission. He enters into your 
struggles ; He has drunk the cup of our suffering to the dregs : 
He knows the hard wrestling it costs us to say, " Not my will, but 
Thine be done." ' 

* Pray with me,' said Janet — 'pray now that I may have 
light and strength.' 



CHAPTER XIX 

Before leaving Janet, Mr. Tryan urged her strongly to send for 
her mother. 

* Do not wound her/ he said, ' by shutting her out any longer 
from your troubles. It is right that you should be with her.' 

* Yes, I will send for her,' said Janet. * But I would rather not 
go to my mother's yet, because my husband is sure to think I am 
there, and he might come and fetch me. I can't go back to 
him ... at least, not yet. Ought I to go back to him ? ' 

* No, certainly not, at present. Something should be done to 
secure you from violence. Your mother, I think, should consult 
some confidential friend, some man of character and experience, 
who might mediate between you and your husband.' 

* Yes, I will seifd for my mother directly. But I will stay here, 
with Mrs. Pettifer, till something has been done. I want no one 
to know where I am, except you. You will come again, will you 
not 1 you will not leave me to myself 1 ' 

*You will not be left to yourself. God is with you. If I 
have been able to give you any comfort, it is because His power 
and love have been present with us. But I am very thankful 
that He has chosen to work through me. I shall see you again 
to-morrow — not before evening, for it will be Sunday, you know ; 
but after the evening lecture I shall be at liberty. You will be 
in my prayers till then. In the meantime, dear Mrs. Dempster, 
open your heart as much as you can to your mother and 
Mrs. Pettifer. Cast away from you the pride that makes us 
shrink from acknowledging our weakness to our friends. Ask 
them to help you in guarding yourself from the least approach 
of the sin you most dread. Deprive yourself as far as possible 
of the very means and opportunity of committing it. Every 
effort of that kind made in humility and dependence is a prayer. 
Promise me you will do this.' 

* Yes, I promise you. I know I have always been too proud ; 
I could never bear to speak to any one about myself. I have been 

381 



382 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

proud towards my mother, even ; it has always made me angry 
when she has seemed to take notice of my faults.' 

* Ah, dear Mrs. Dempster, you will never say again that life 
is blank, and that there is nothing to live for, will you? See 
what work there is to be done in life, both in our own souls and 
for others. Surely it matters little whether we have more or less 
of this world's comfort in these short years, when God is training 
us for the eternal enjoyment of His love. Keep that great end 
of life before you, and your troubles here will seem only the small 
hardships of a journey. Now I must go.' 

Mr. Tryan rose and held out his hand. Janet took it and 
said, * God has been very good to me in sending you to me. I 
will trust in Him. I will try to do everything you tell me.' 

Blessed influence of one true loving human soul on another ! 
Not calculable by algebra, not deducible by logic, but mysterious, 
effectual, mighty as the hidden process by which the tiny seed is 
quickened, and bursts forth into tall stem and broad leaf, and 
glowing tasselled flower. Ideas are often poor ghosts ; our 
sun-filled eyes cannot discern them ; they pass athwart us in 
thin vapour, and cannot make themselves felt. But sometimes 
they are made flesh ; they breathe upon us with warm breath, 
they touch us with soft responsive hands, they look at us with 
sad sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones; they are 
clothed in a living human soul, with all its conflicts, its faith, 
and its love. Then their presence is a power, then they shake 
us like a passion, and we are drawn after them with gentle 
compulsion, as flame is drawn to flame. 

Janet's dark grand face, still fatigued, had become quite calm, 
and looked up, as she sat, with a humble childlike expression at 
the thin blond face and slightly sunken grey eyes which now 
shone with hectic brightness. She might have been taken for an 
image of passionate strength beaten and worn with conflict ; and 
he for an image of the self-renouncing faith which had soothed 
that conflict into rest. As he looked at the sweet submissive 
face, he remembered its look of despairing anguish, and his 
heart was very full as he turned away from her. ' Let me only 
live to see this work confirmed, and then . . .' 

It was nearly ten o'clock when Mr. Tryan left, but Janet was 
bent on sending for her mother ; so Mrs. Pettifer, as the readiest 
plan, put on her bonnet and went herself to fetch Mrs. Raynor. 
The mother had been too long used to expect that every fresh 
week would be more painful than the last, for Mrs. Pettifer's 
news to come upon her with the shock of a surprise. Quietly, 
without any show pf distress, she made up a bundle of clothes, 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 383 

and, telling her little maid that she should not return home that 
night, accompanied Mrs. Pettifer back in silence. 

When they entered the parlour, Janet, wearied out, had sunk 
to sleep in the large chair, which stood with its back to the 
door. The noise of the opening door disturbed her, and she was 
looking round wonderingly, when Mrs. Raynor came up to her 
chair, and said, * It's your mother, Janet.' 

* Mother, dear mother ! ' Janet cried, clasping her closely. 
* I have not been a good tender child to you, but I vnll be — 
I will not grieve you any more.' 

The calmness which had withstood a new sorrow was overcome 
by a new joy, and the mother burst into tears. 



CHAPTER XX 

On Sunday morning the rain had ceased, and Janet, looking out 
of the bedroom window, saw, above the housetops, a shining mass 
of white cloud rolling under the far-away blue sky. It was going 
to be a lovely April day. The fresh sky, left clear and calm after 
the long vexation of wind and rain, mingled its mild influence 
with Janet's new thoughts and prospects. She felt a buoyant 
courage that surprised herself, after the cold crushing weight of 
despondency which had oppressed her the day before : she could 
think even of her husband's rage without the old overpowering 
dread. For a delicious hope — the hope of purification and inward 
peace — had entered into Janet's soul, and made it springtime 
there as well as in the outer worid. 

While her mother was brushing and coiling up her thick black 
hair — a favourite task, because it seemed to renew the days of 
her daughter's girlhood — Janet told how she came to send for 
Mr. Tryan, how she had remembered their meeting at Sally 
Martin's in the autumn, and had felt an irresistible desire to 
see him, and tell him her sins and her troubles. 

* I see God's goodness now, mother, in ordering it so that we 
should meet in that way, to overcome my prejudice against him, 
and make me feel that he was good, and then bringing it back to 
my mind in the depth of my trouble. You know what foolish 
things I used to say about him, knowing nothing of him all the 
while. And yet he was the man who was to give me comfort 
and help when eveiything else failed me. It is wonderful how I 
feel able to speak to him as I never have done to any one before ; 
and how every word he says to me enters my heart and has a new 
meaning for me. I think it must be because he has felt life more 
deeply than others, and has a deeper faith. I believe everything 
he says at once. His words come to me like rain on the parched 
ground. It has always seemed to me before as if I could see 
behind people's words, as one sees behind a screen ; but in 
Mr. Tryan it is his very soul that speaks.' 

384 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 385 

*Well, my dear child, I love and bless him for your sake, if 
he has given you any comfort. I never believed the harm people 
said of him, though I had no desire to go and hear him, for I am 
contented with old-fashioned ways. I find more good teaching 
than I can practise in reading my Bible at home, and hearing 
Mr. Crewe at church. But your wants are diflferent, my dear, 
and we are not all led by the same road. That was certainly 
good advice of Mr. Tryan's you told me of last night — that we 
should consult some one that may interfere for you with your 
husband ; and I have been turning it over in my mind while IVe 
been lying awake in the night. I think nobody will do so well as 
Mr. Benjamin Landor, for we must have a man that knows the 
law, and that Robert is rather afraid of. And perhaps he could 
bring about an agreement for you to live apart. Your husband's 
bound to maintain you, you know ; and, if you liked, we could 
move away from Milby and live somewhere else.' 

* Oh, mother, we must do nothing yet ; I must think about it 
a little longer. I have a different feeling this morning from what 
I had yesterday. Something seems to tell me that I must go 
back to Robert some time — after a little while. I loved him once 
better than all the world, and I have never had any children to 
love. There were things in me that were wrong, and I should 
like to make up for them if I can.' 

' Well, my dear, I won't persuade you. Think of it a little 
longer. But something must be done soon.' 

'How I wish I had my bonnet, and shawl, and black gown 
here ! ' said Janet, after a few minutes' silence. * I should like 
to go to Paddiford Church and hear Mr. Tryan. There would 
be no fear of my meeting Robert, for he never goes out on a 
Sunday morning.' 

* I'm afraid it would not do for me to go to the house and fetch 
your clothes,' said Mrs. Raynor. 

* Oh no, no ! I must stay quietly here while you two go to 
church. I will be Mrs. Pettifer's maid, and get the dinner ready 
for her by the time she comes back. Dear good woman ! She 
was so tender to me when she took me in, in the night, mother, 
and all the next day, when I couldn't speak a word to her to 
thank her.' 



2g 



CHAPTER XX 

The servants at Dempster's felt some surprise when the morning, 
noon, and evening of Saturday had passed, and still their mistress 
did not reappear. 

* It's very odd,' said Kitty, the housemaid, as she trimmed her 
next week's cap, while Betty, the middle-aged cook, looked on with 
folded arms. *Do you think as Mrs. Raynor was ill, and sent 
for the missis afore we was up 1 ' 

* Oh,' said Betty, * if it had been that, she'd ha' been backwards 
an' for'ards three or four times afore now ; leastways, she'd ha' 
sent little Ann to let us know.' 

* There's summat up more nor usal between her an' the master, 
that you may depend on,' said Kitty. ' I know those clothes as was 
lying i' the drawing-room yesterday, when the company was come, 
meant summat. I shouldn't wonder if that was what they've 
had a fresh row about. She's p'raps gone away, an's made up 
her mind not to come back again.' 

* An' i' the right on't, too,' said Betty. * I'd ha' overrun him 
long afore now, if it had been me. I wouldn't stan' bein' mauled 
as she is by no husband, not if he was the biggest lord i' the 
land. It's poor work bein' a wife at that price : I'd sooner be 
a cook wi'out perkises, an' hev roast, an' boil, an' fry, an' bake, 
all to mind at once. She may well do as she does. I know I'm 
glad enough of a drop o' summat myself when I'm plagued. I 
feel very low, like, to-night ; I think I shall put my beer i' the 
saucepan 'an' warm it.' 

* Whstt a one you are for warmin' your beer, Betty ! I couldn't 
abide it — nasty bitter stuff ! ' 

* It's fine talkin' ; if you was a cook you'd know what belongs 
to bein' a cook. It's none so nice to hev a sinkin' at your 
stomach, I can tell you. You wouldn't think so much o' fine 
ribbins i' your cap then.' 

* Well, well, Betty, don't be grumpy. Liza Thomson, as is at 
Phipps's, said to me last Sunday, "I wonder you'll stay at 

386 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 387 

Dempster's," she says, " such goius-on as there is." But I says, 
*' There's things to put up wi' in ivery place, an' you may change, 
an' change, an' not better yourself when all's said an' done." Lors ! 
why Liza told me herself as Mrs. Phipps was as skinny as skinny 
i' the kitchen, for all they keep so much company; and as for 
foUyers, she's as cross as a turkey-cock if she finds 'em out. 
There's nothin' o' that sort i' the missis. How pretty she come 
an' spoke to Job last Sunday ! There isn't a good-natur'der 
woman i' the world, that's my belief — an' hansome too. I al'ys 
think there's nobody looks half so well as the missis when she's 
got her 'air done nice. Lors ! I wish I'd got long 'air like her — 
my 'air's a-comin' oflf dreadful.' 

' There'll be fine work to-morrow, I expect,' said Betty, ' when 
the master comes home, an' Dawes a-swearin' as he'll niver do 
a stroke o' work for him again. It'll be good fun if he sets the 
justice on him for cuttin' him wi' the whip ; the master'U p'raps 
get his comb cut for once in his life ! ' 

* Why, he was in a temper like a fi-end this morning,' said 
Kitty. *I daresay it was along o' what had happened wi' the 
missis. We shall hev a pretty house wi' him if she doesn't come 
back — he'll want to be leatherin' us, I shouldn't wonder. He 
must hev somethin' t' ill-use when he's in a passion.' 

*I'd tek care he didn't leather me — no, not if he was my 
husban' ten times o'er ; I'd pour hot drippin' on him sooner. But 
the missis hasn't a sperrit like me. He'll mek her come back, 
you'll see -, he'll come round her somehow. There's no likelihood 
of her coming back to-night, though ; so I should think we might 
fasten the doors and go to bed when we like.' 

On Sunday morning, however, Kitty's mind became disturbed 
by more definite and alarming conjectures about her mistress. 
While Betty, encouraged by the prospect of unwonted leisure, 
was sitting down to continue a letter which had long lain 
unfinished between the leaves of her Bible, Kitty cahie running 
into the kitchen, and said — 

* Lor ! Betty, I'm all of a tremble ; you might knock me down 
wi' a feather, I've just looked into the missis's wart.robe, an' 
there's both her bonnets. She must ha' gone wi'out her bonnet. 
An' then I remember as her night-clothes wasn't on the bed 
yesterday mornin' ; I thought she'd put 'em away to be washed ; 
but she hedn't, for I've been lookin'. It's my belief he's murdered 
her, and shut her up i' that closet as he keeps locked al'ys. He's 
capible on't.' 

* Lors-ha'-massy ! why, you'd better run to Mrs. Raynor's an' 
see if she's there, arter all. It was p'raps all a lie.' 



388 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Mrs. Raynor had returned home to give directions to her little 
maiden, when Kitty, with the elaborate manifestation of alarm 
which servants delight in, rushed in without knocking, and, 
holding her hands on her heart as if the consequences to that 
organ were likely to be very serious, said — 

* If you please 'ra, is the missis here ? ' 

* No, Kitty ; why are you come to ask ? ' 

* Because 'm, she's niver been at home since yesterday momin', 
since afore we was up ; an' we thought somethin' must ha' 
happened to her.' 

* No, don't be frightened, Kitty. Your mistress is quite safe ; 
I know where she is. Is your master at home ? ' 

* No 'm ; he went out yesterday mornin,' an' said he shouldn't 
be back afore to-night.' 

* Well, Kitty, there's nothing the matter with your mistress. 
You needn't say anything to any one about her being away from 
home. I shall call presently and fetch her gown and bonnet. 
She wants them to put on.' 

Kitty, perceiving there was a mystery she was not to inquire 
into, returned to Orchard Street, really glad to know that her 
mistress was safe, but disappointed, nevertheless, at being told 
that she was not to be frightened. She was soon followed by 
Mrs. Raynor in quest of the gown and bonnet. The gdbd 
mother, on learning that Dempster was not at home, had at 
once thought that she could gratify Janet's wish to go to 
Paddiford Church. 

* See, my dear,' she said, as she entered Mrs. Pettifer's 
parlour; *I've brought you your black clothes. Robert's not 
at home, and is not coming till this evening. I couldn't find 
your best black gown, but this will do. I wouldn't bring 
anything else, you know ; but there can't be any objection to 
my fetching clothes to cover you. You can go to Paddiford 
Church now, if you like ; and I will go with you.' 

* That's a dear mother ! Then we'll all three go together. 
Come and help me to get ready. Good little Mrs. Crewe ! It 
will vex her sadly that I should go to hear Mr. Tryan. But I 
must kiss her, and make it up with her.' 

. Many eyes were turned on Janet with a look of surprise as 
she walked up the aisle of Paddiford Church. She felt a little 
tremor at the notice she knew she was exciting, but it was a 
strong satisfaction to her that she had been able at once to take 
a step that would let her neighbours know her change of feeling 
towards Mr. Tryan : she had left herself now no room for proud 
reluctance or weak hesitation. The walk through the sweet 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 38d 

spring air had stimulated all her fresh hopes, all her yearning 
desires after purity, strength, and peace. She thought she should 
find a new meaning in the prayers this morning ; her full heart, 
like an overflowing river, wanted those ready-made channels to 
pour itself into ; and then she should hear Mr. Tryan again, and 
his words would fall on her like precious balm, as they had done 
last night. There was a liquid brightness in her eyes as they 
rested on the mere walls, the pews, the weavers and colliers in 
their Sunday clothes. The commonest things seemed to touch 
the spring of love within her, just as, when we are suddenly 
released from an acute absorbing bodily pain, our heart and 
senses leap out in new freedom ; we think even the noise of 
streets harmonious, and are ready to hug the tradesman who is 
wrapping up our change. A door had been opened in Janet's 
cold dark prison of self-despair, and the golden light of morning 
was pouring in its slanting beams through the blessed opening. 
There was sunlight in the world ; there was a divine love caring 
for her ; it had given her an earnest of good things ; it had been 
preparing comfort for her in the very moment when she had 
thought herself most forsaken. 

Mr. Tryan might well rejoice when his eye rested on her as 
he entered his desk ; but he rejoiced with trembling. He could 
not look at the sweet hopeful face without remembering its 
yesterday's look of agony ; and there was the possibility that 
that look might return. 

Janet's appearance at church was greeted not only by wondering 
eyes, but by kind hearts, and after the service several of 
Mr. Tryan's hearers, with whom she had been on cold terms of 
late, contrived to come up to her and take her by the hand. 

* Mother,' said Miss Linnet, 'do let us go and speak to 
Mrs. Dempster. I'm sure there's a great change in her mind 
towards Mr. Tryan. I noticed how eagerly she listened to the 
sermon, and she's come with Mrs. Pettifer, you see. We ought 
to go and give her a welcome among us.' 

* Why, my dear, we've never spoke friendly these five year. 
You know she's been as haughty as anything since I quarrelled 
with her husband. However, let bygones be bygones : I've no 
grudge again' the poor thing, more particular as she must ha' 
flew in her husband's face to come an' hear Mr. Tryan. Yes, let 
us go an' speak to her.' 

The friendly words and looks touched Janet a little too keenly, 
and Mrs. Pettifer wisely hurried her home by the least frequented 
road. When they reached home, a violent fit of weeping, 
followed by continuous lassitude, showed that the emotions of 



390 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

the morning had overstrained her nerves. She was suffering, 
too, from the absence of the long-accustomed stimulus which she 
had promised Mr. Tryan not to touch again. The poor thing 
was conscious of this, and dreaded her own weakness, as the 
victim of intermittent insanity dreads the oncoming of the old 
illusion. 

* Mother,' she whispered, when Mrs. Raynor urged her to lie 
down and rest all the afternoon, that she might be the better 
prepared to see Mr. Tryan in the evening — * mother, don't let ms 
have anything if I ask for it.' 

In the mother's mind there was the same anxiety, and in her 
it was mingled with another ftar — the fear lest Janet, in her 
present excited state of mind, should take some premature step 
in relation to her husband, which might lead back to all the 
former troubles. The hint she had thrown out in the morning 
of her wish to return to hinf after a time showed a new eagerness 
for difficult duties, that only made the long-saddened, sober mother 
tremble. 

But as evening approached, Janet's morning heroism all forsook 
her : her imagination, influenced by physical depression as well as 
by mental habits, was haunted by the vision of her husband's 
return home, and she began to shudder with the yesterday's dread. 
She heard him calling her, she saw him going to her mother's to 
look for her, she felt sure he would find her out, and burst in 
upon her. 

'Pray, pray, don't leave me, don't go to church,' she said to 
Mrs. Pettifer. *You and mother both stay with me till 
Mr. Tryan comes.' 

At twenty minutes past six the church bells were ringing for 
the evening service, and soon the congregation was streaming 
along Orchard Street in the mellow sunset. The street opened 
toward the west. The red half- sunken sun shed a solemn 
splendour on the everyday houses, and crimsoned the windows 
of Dempster's projecting upper storey. 

Suddenly a loud murmur arose and spread along the stream 
of church-goers, and one group after another paused and looked 
backward. At the far end of the street, men, accompanied by a 
miscellaneous group of onlookers, were slowly canying something 
— a body stretched on a door. Slowly they passed along the 
middle of the street, lined all the way with awe-struck faces, 
till they turned aside and paused in the red sunlight before 
Dempster's door. 

It was Dempster's body. No one knew whether he was alive 
or dead. 



CHAPTER XXII 

It was pro]?ably a hard saying to the Pharisees, that 'there is 
more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over 
ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.' And 
certain ingenious philosophers of our^ own day must surely take 
offence at a joy so entirely out of correspondence with arithmetical 
proportion. But a heart that has been taught by its own sore 
struggles to bleed for the woes of another — that has * learned 
pity through suffering ' — is likely to find very imperfect satisfac- 
tion in the * balance of happiness/ 'doctrine of compensations,' 
and other short and easy methods of obtaining thorough com- 
placency in the presence of pain ; and for such a heart that 
saying will not be altogether dark. The emotions, I have 
observed, are but slightly influenced by arithmetical considerations : 
the mother, when her sweet Hsping little ones have all been 
taken from her one after another, and she is hanging over her 
last dead babe, finds small consolation in the fact that the tiny 
dimpled corpse is but one of a necessary average, and that a 
thousand other babes brought into the world at the same time 
are doing well, and are likely to live : and if you stood beside 
that mother — if you knew her pang and shared it — it is probable 
you would be equally unable to see a ground of complacency in 
statistics. 

Doubtless a complacency resting on that basis is highly rational ; 
but emotion, I fear, is obstinately irrational : it insists on caring 
for individuals ; it absolutely refuses to adopt the quantitative 
view of human anguish, and to admit that thirteen happy lives 
are a set-off against twelve miserable lives, which leaves a clear 
balance on the side of satisfaction. This is the inherent 
imbecility of feeling, and one must be a great philosopher to 
have got quite clear of all that, and to have emerged into the 
serene air of pure intellect, in which it is evident that individuals 
really exist for no other purpose than that abstractions may be 
drawn from them — abstractions that may rise from heaps of 

391 



392 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

ruined lives like the sweet savour of a sacrifice in the nostrils of 
philosophers, and of a philosophic Deity. And so it comes to 
pass that for the man who knows sympathy because he has known 
sorrow, that old, old saying about the joy of angels over the 
repentant sinner outweighing their joy over the ninety-nine just, 
has a meaning which does not jar with the language of his 
own heart. It only tells him, that for angels too there is a 
transcendent value in human pain, which refuses to be settled 
by equations ; that the eyes of angels too are turned away from 
the serene happiness of the righteous to bend with yearning pity 
on the poor erring soul wandering in the desert where no water 
is ; that for angels too the misery of one casts so tremendous 
a shadow as to eclipse the bliss of ninety-nine. 

Mr. Tryan had gone through the initiation of suffering : it is 
no wonder, then, that Janet's restoration was the work that lay 
nearest his heart ; and that, weary as he was in body when he 
entered the vestry after the evening service, he was impatient to 
fulfil the promise of seeing her. His experience enabled him to 
divine — what was the fact — that the hopefulness of the morning 
would be followed by a return of depression and discouragement ; 
and his sense of the inward and outward difficulties in the way of 
her restoration was so keen, that he could only find relief from 
the foreboding it excited by lifting up his heart in prayer. There 
are unseen elements which often frustrate our wisest calculations 
— which raise up the suflferer from the edge of the grave, 
contradicting the prophecies of the clear-sighted physician, and 
fulfilling the blind clinging hopes of affection ; such unseen 
elements Mr. Tryan called the Divine Will, and filled up the 
margin of ignorance which surrounds all our knowledge with 
the feelings of trust and resignation. Perhaps the profoundest 
philosophy could hardly fill it up better. 

His mind was occupied in this way as he was absently taking off 
his gown, when Mr. Landor startled him by entering the vestry 
and asking abruptly — 

* Have you heard the news about Dempster ? ' 

* No,' said Mr. Tryan, anxiously ; * what is it T 

* He has been thrown out of his gig in the Bridge Way, and 
he was taken up for dead. They were carrying him home as we 
were coming to church, and I stayed behind to see what I could 
do. I went in to speak to Mrs. Dempster, and prepare her a little, 
but she was not at home. Dempster is not dead, however ; he 
was stunned with the fall. Pilgrim came in a few minutes, and 
he says the right leg is broken in two places. It's likely to be 
a terrible case, with his state of body. It seems he was more 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 393 

drunk than usual, and they say he came along the Bridge Way 
flogging his horse like a madman, till at last it gave a sudden 
wheel, and he was pitched out. The servants said they didn't 
know where Mrs. Dempster was : she had been away from home 
since yesterday morning ; but Mrs. Kaynor knew.' 

* I know where she is,' said Mr. Tryan ; * but I think it will 
be better for her not to be told of this just yet.' 

* Ah, that was what Pilgrim said, and so I didn't go round to 
Mrs. Eaynor's. He said it would be all the better if Mrs. 
Dempster could be kept out of the house for the present. Do 
you know if anything new has happened between Dempster and 
his wife lately ? I was surprised to hear of her being at Paddiford 
Church this morning.' 

* Yes, something has happened ; but I believe she is anxious 
that the particulars of his behaviour towards her should not be 
known. She is at Mrs. Pettifer's — there is no reason for con- 
cealing that, since what has happened to her husband ; and 
yesterday, when she was in very deep trouble, she sent for me. 
I was very thankful she did so : I believe a great change of 
feeling has begun in her. But she is at present in that excitable 
state of mind — she has been shaken by so many painful emotions 
during the last two days, that I think it would be better, for 
this evening at least, to guard her from a new shock, if possible. 
But I am going now to call upon her, and I shall see how she is.' 

' Mr. Tryan,' said Mr. Jerome, who had entered during the 
dialogue, and had been standing by, listening with a distressed 
face, * I shall take it as a favour if you'll let me know if iver 
there's anything I can do for Mrs. Dempster. Eh, dear, what 
a world this is ! I think 1 see 'em fifteen year ago — as happy a 
young couple as iver was ; and now, what it's all come to ! I 
was in a hurry, like, to punish Dempster for pessecutin', but there 
was a stronger hand at work nor mine.' 

* Yes, Mr. Jerome ; but don't let us rejoice in punishment, 
even when the hand of God alone inflicts it. The best of us 
are but poor wretches just saved from shipwreck : can we feel 
anything but awe and pity when we see a fellow- passenger 
swallowed by the waves ? ' 

* Right, right, Mr. Tryan. I'm over hot and hasty, that I 
am. But I beg on you to tell Mrs. Dempster — I mean, in 
course, when you've an opportunity — tell her she's a friend at 
the White House as she may send for any hour o' the day.' 

* Yes ; I shall have an opportunity, I daresay, and I will 
remember your wish. I think,' continued Mr. Tryan, turning to 
Mr, Landor. *I had better see Mr. Pilgrim on my way, and 



394 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

learn what is exactly the state of things by this time. What 
do you think ? ' 

By all means : if Mrs. Dempster is to know, there's no one 
can break the news to her so well as you. I'll walk with you 
to Dempster's door. I daresay Pilgrim is there still. Come, 
Mr. Jerome, you've got to go our way too, to fetch your horse.' 

Mr. Pilgrim was in the passage giving some directions to his 
assistant, when, to his surprise, he saw Mr. Tryan enter. They 
shook hands ; for Mr. Pilgrim, never having joined the party of 
the Anti-Tryanites, had no ground for resisting the growing 
conviction, that the Evangelical curate was really a good fellow, 
though he was a fool for not taking better care of himself. 

' Why, I didn't expect to see you in your old enemy's quarters,' 
he said to Mr. Tryan. * However, it will be a good while before 
poor Dempster shows any fight again.' 

* I came on Mrs. Dempster's account,' said Mr. Tryan. ' She 
is staying at Mrs. Pettifer's ; she has had a great shock from 
some severe domestic trouble lately, and I think it will be wise to 
defer telling her of this dreadful event for a short time.' 

*Why, what has been up, eh?' said Mr. Pilgrim, whose 
curiosity was at once awakened. * She used to be no friend of 
yours. Has there been some split between them ? It's a^ new 
thing for her to turn round on him.' 

* Oh, merely an exaggeration of scenes that must often have 
happened before. But the question now is, whether you think 
there is any immediate danger of her husband's death ; for in that 
case, I think, from what I have observed of her feelings, she 
would be pained afterwards to have been kept in ignorance.' 

* Well, there's no telling in these cases, you know. I don't 
apprehend speedy death, and it is not absolutely impossible that 
we may bring him round again. At present he's in a state of 
apoplectic stupor ; but if that subsides, delirium is almost sure to 
supervene, and we shall have some painful scenes. It's one of 
those complicated cases in which the delirium is likely to be 
of the worst kind — meningitis and delirium tremens together — 
and we may have a good deal of trouble with him. If Mrs. 
Dempster were told, I should say it would be desirable to 
persuade her to remain out of the house at present. She could 
do no good, you know. I've got nurses.' 

* Thank you,' said Mr. Tiyan. *That is what I wanted to 
know. Good-bye.' 

When Mrs. Pettifer opened the door for Mr. Tryan, he told 
her in a few words what had happened, and begged her to take 
an opportunity of letting Mrs. Rayuor know, that they might, if 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 395 

possible, concur in preventing a premature or sudden disclosure 
of the event to Janet. 

* Poor thing ! ' said Mrs. Pettifer. ' She's not fit to hear any 
bad news ; she's very low this evening — worn out with feeling ; 
and she's not had anything to keep her up, as she's been used to. 
She seems frightened at the thought of being tempted to take it.' 

* Thank God for it ; that fear is her greatest security.' 

When Mr. Tryan entered the parlour this time, Janet was 
again awaiting him eagerly, and her pale sad face was lighted up 
with a smile as she rose to meet him. But the next moment she 
said, with a look of anxiety — 

* How very ill and tired you look ! You have been working 
so hard all day, and yet you are come to talk to me. Oh, you are 
wearing yourself out. I must go and ask Mrs. Pettifer to come 
and make you have some supper. But this is my mother; you 
have not seen her before, I think.' 

While Mr. Tryan was speaking to Mrs. Kaynor, Janet hurried 
out, and he, seeing that this good-natured though tfulness on 
his behalf would help to counteract her depression, was not 
inclined to oppose her wish, but accepted the supper Mrs. Pettifer 
offered him, quietly talking the while about a clothing club he 
was -going to establish in Paddiford, and the want of provident 
habits among the poor. 

Presently, however, Mrs. Raynor said she must go home for 
an hour, to see how her little maiden was going on, and Mrs. 
Pettifer left the room with her to take the opportunity of telling 
her what had happened to Dempster. When Janet was left alone 
with Mr. Tryan, she said — 

* I feel so uncertain what to do about my husband. I am so 
weak — my feelings change so from hour to hour. This moniing, 
when I felt so hopeful and happy, I thought I should like to go 
back to him, and try to make up for what has been wrong in me. 
I thought, now God would help me, and I should have you to 
teach and advise me, and I could bear the troubles that would 
come. But since then — all this afternoon and evening — I have 
had the same feelings I used to have, the same dread of his anger 
and cnielty, and it seems to me as if I should nev6r be able to 
bear it without falling into the same sins, and doing just what I 
did before. Yet, if it were settled that I should live apart from 
him, I know it would always be a load on my mind that I had 
shut myself out from going back to him. It seems a dreadful 
thing in life, when any one has been so near to one as a husband 
for fifteen years, to part and be nothing to each other any more. 
Surely that is a very strong tie, and I feel as if my duty can never 



396 SCENES OP CLERICAL LIFE 

lie quite away from it. It is very difl&cult to know what to do : 
what ought I to do r 

*I think it will be well not to take any decisive step yet. 
Wait until your mind is calmer. You might remain with your 
mother for a little while ; I think you have no real ground for 
fearing any annoyance from your husband at present ; he has put 
himself too much in the wrong; he will very likely leave you 
unmolested for some time. Dismiss this difficult question from 
your mind just now, if you can. Every new day may bring you 
new grounds for decision, and what is most needful for your health 
of mind is repose from that haunting anxiety about the future 
which has been preying on you. Cast yourself on God, and trust 
that He will direct you ; He will make your duty clear to you, if 
you wait submissively on Him.' 

* Yes ; I will wait a little, as you tell me. I will go to my 
mother's to-morrow, and pray to be guided rightly. You will 
pray for me, too.' 



CHAPTER XXIII 

The next morning Janet was so much calmer, and at breakfast 
spoke so decidedly of going to her mother's, that Mrs. Pettifer and 
Mrs. Raynor agreed it would be wise to let her know by degrees 
what had befallen her husband, since as soon as she went out 
there would be danger of her meeting some one who would betray 
the fact. But Mrs. Raynor thought it would be well first to call 
at Dempster's, and ascertain how he was : so she said to 
Janet — 

* My dear, I'll go home first, and see to things, and get your 
room ready. You needn't come yet, you know. I shall be back 
again in an hour or so, and we can go together.' 

* Oh no,' said Mrs. Pettifer. ' Stay with me till evening. I 
shall be lost without you. You needn't go till quite evening.' 

Janet had dipped into the Life of Henry Martyn^ which Mrs. 
Pettifer had from the Paddiford Lending Library, and her interest 
was so arrested by that pathetic missionary story, that she readily 
acquiesced in both propositions, and Mrs. Raynor set out. 

She had been gone more than an hour, and it was nearly twelve 
o'clock, when Janet put down her book ; and after sitting 
meditatively for some minutes with her eyes unconsciously fixed 
on the opposite wall, she rose, went to her bedroom, and, hastily 
putting on her bonnet and shawl, came down to Mrs. Pettifer, 
who was busy in the kitchen. 

' Mrs. Pettifer,' she said, ' tell mother, when she comes back, 
I'm gone to see what has become of those poor Lakins in Butcher 
Lane. I know they're half starving, and I've neglected them so, 
lately. And then, I think I'll go on to Mrs. Crewe. I want to 
see the dear little woman, and tell her myself about my going to 
hear Mr. Tryan. She won't feel it half so much if I tell her 
myself 

* Won't you wait till your mother comes, or put it off till 
to-morrow?' said Mrs. Pettifer, alarmed. * You'll hardly be back 
in time for dinner, if you get talking to Mrs. Crewe. And you'll 

397 



398 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

have to pass by your husband's, you know ; and yesterday, you 
were so afraid of seeing him/ 

* Oh, Robert will be shut up at the office now, if he's not gone 
out of the town. I must go — I feel I must be doing something 
for some one — not be a mere useless log any longer. IVe been 
reading about that wonderful Henry Martyn ; he's just like Mr. 
Try an — wearing himself out for other people, and I sit thinking 
of nothing but myself. I must go. Good-bye; I shall be back 
soon.' 

She ran off before Mrs. Pettifer could utter another word of 
dissuasion, leaving the good woman in considerable anxiety lest 
this new impulse of Janet's should frustrate all precautions to 
save her from a sudden shock. 

Janet, having paid her visit in Butcher Lane, turned again into 
Orchard Street on her way to Mrs. Crewe's, and was thinking, 
rather sadly, that her mother's economical housekeeping would 
leave no abundant surplus to be sent to the hungry Lakins, when 
she saw Mr. Pilgrim in advance of her on the other side of the 
street. He was walking at a rapid pace, and when he reached 
Dempster's door he turned and entered without knocking. 

Janet was startled. Mr. Pilgrim would never enter in that 
way unless there were some one very ill in the house. It was her 
husband ; she felt certain of it at once. Something had happened 
to him. Without a moment's pause, she ran across the street, 
opened the door, and entered. There was no one in the passage. 
The dining-room door was wide open — no one was there. Mr. 
Pilgrim, then, was already upstairs. She rushed up at once 
to Dempster's room — her own room. The door was open, and she 
paused in pale horror at the sight before her, which seemed to 
stand out only with the more appalling distinctness because the 
noonday light was darkened to twilight in the chamber. 

Two strong nurses were using their utmost force to hold 
Dempster in bed, while the medical assistant was applying a 
sponge to his head, and Mr. Pilgrim was busy adjusting some 
apparatus in the background. Dempster's face was purple and 
swollen, his eyes dilated, and fixed with a look of dire terror on 
something he seemed to see approaching him from the iron closet. 
He trembled violently, and struggled as if to jump out of bed. 

* Let me go, let me go,' he said in a loud, hoarse whisper ; 
* she's coming . . . she's cold . . . she's dead . . . she'll strangle 
me with her black hair. Ah ! ' he shrieked aloud, * her hair is 
all serpents . . . they're black serpents . . . they hiss . . . 
they hiss ... let me go .. . let me go . . . she wants to drag- 
me with her cold arms . . . her arms are serpents . . . they 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 399 

are great white serpents . . . they'll twine round me . . . she 
wants to drag me into the cold water . . . her bosom is cold 
... it is black ... it is all serpents. . . .' 

* No, Kobert/ Janet cried, in tones of yearning pity, rushing to 
the side of the bed, and stretching out her arms towards him, 
* no, here is Janet. She is not dead — she forgives you.' 

Dempster's maddened senses seemed to receive some new 
impression from her appearance. The terror gave way to rage. 

* Ha ! you sneaking hypocrite ! ' he burst out in a grating 
voice, * you threaten me . . . you mean to have your revenge on 
me, do you ? Do your worst ! I've got the law on my side . . . 
I know the law . . . I'll hunt you down like a hare . . . prove 
it . . . prove that I was tampered with . . . prove that I took 
the money . . . prove it . . . you can prove nothing . . . you 
damned psalm-singing maggots ! I'll make a fire under you, and 
smoke off the whole pack of you . . . I'll sweep you up. . . . 
I'll grind you to powder . . . small powder . . . (here his voice 
dropt to a low tone of shuddering disgust) . . . powder on the 
bed-clothes . . . running about . . . black lice . . . they are 
coming in swarms . . . Janet ! come and take them away . . . 
curse you ! why don't you come 1 Janet ! ' 

Poor Janet was kneeling by the bed with her face buried in 
her hands. She almost wished her worst moment back again 
rather than this. It seemed as if her husband was already 
imprisoned in misery, and she could not reach him — his ear deaf ) 
foi; ever to the sounds of love and forgiveness. His sins had / 
made a hard crust round his soul ; her pitying voice could not ' 
pierce it. 

* Not there, isn't she ? ' he went on in a defiant tone. * Why 
do you ask me where she is? I'll have every drop of yellow 
blood out of your veins if you come questioning me. Your blood 
is yellow ... in your purse . . . running out of your purse 
. . . What ! you're changing it into toads, are you 1 They're 
crawling . . . they're flying . . . they're flying about my head 
. . . the toads are flying about. Ostler ! ostler ! bring out my 
gig . . . bring it out, you lazy beast ... ha ! you'll follow me, 
will you? . . . you'll fly about my head . . . you've got fiery 
tongues . . . Ostler ! curse you ! why don't you come ? Janet ! 
come and take the toads away . . . Janet ! ' 

This last time he uttered her name with such a shriek of 
terror, that Janet involuntarily started up from her knees, and 
stood as if petrified by the horrible vibration. Dempster stared 
wildly in silence for some moments ; then he spoke again in a 
hoarse whisper — 



400 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

* Dead ... is she dead 1 She did it, then. She buried herself 
in the iron chest . . . she left her clothes out, though . . . she 
isn't dead . . . why do you pretend she's dead? . . . she's 
coming . . . she's coming out of the iron closet . . . there are 
the black serpents . . . stop her ... let me go .. . stop her 
. . . she wants to drag me away into the cold black water . . . 
her bosom is black ... it is all serpents . . . they are getting 
longer . . . the great white serpents are getting longer . . .' 

Here Mr. Pilgrim came forward with the apparatus to bind 
him, but Dempster's struggles became more and more violent. 
' Ostler ! ostler ! ' he shouted, * bring out the gig . . . give me 
the whip !' — and bursting loose from the strong hands that held* 
him, he began to flog the bed-clothes furiously with his .right 
arm. 

* Get along, you lame brute ! — sc — sc — sc ! that's it ! there 
you go! They think they've outwitted me, do they? The 
sneaking idiots ! I'll be up with them by and by. I'll make 
them say the Lord's Prayer backwards . . . I'll pepper them 
so that the devil shall eat them raw . . . sc — sc — sc — we shall 
see who'll be the winner yet . . . get along, you damned limping 
beast . . . I'll lay your back open . . . I'll . . .' 

He raised himself with a stronger effort than ever to flog the 
bed-clothes, and fell back in convulsions. Janet gave a scream, 
and sank on her knees again. She thought he was dead. 

As soon as Mr. Pilgrim was able to give her a moment's 
attention, he came to her, and, taking her by the arm, attempted 
to draw her gently out of the room. 

'Now, my dear Mrs. Dempster, let me persuade you not to 
remain in the room at present. We shall soon relieve these 
symptoms, I hope ; it is nothing but the delirium that ordinarily 
attends such cases.' 

* Oh, what is the matter ? what brought it on ? ' 

* He fell oiit of the gig ; the right leg is broken. It is a 
terrible accident, and I don't disguise that there is considerable 
danger attending it, owing to the state of the brain. But Mr. 
Dempster has a strong constitution, you know ; in a few days 
these symptoms may be allayed, and he may do well. Let me 
beg of you to keep out of the room at present : you can do no 
good until Mr. Dempster is better, and able to know you. But 
you ought not to be alone ; let me advise you to have. Mrs. 
Raynor with you.' 

'Yes, I will send for mother. But you must not object to 
my being in the room. I shall be very quiet now, only just at 
first the shock was so great ; I knew nothing about it. I can 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 401 

help the nurses a great deal ; I can put the cold things to his 
head. He may be sensible for a moment and know me. Pray 
do not say any more against it : my heart is set on being 
with him.' 

Mr. Pilgrim gave way, and Janet, having sent for her mother 
and put off her bonnet and shawl, returned to take her place by 
the side of her husband's bed. 



2d 



CHAPTER XXIV 

Day after day, with only short intervals of rest, Janet kept her 
place in that sad chamber. No wonder the sick-room and the 
lazaretto have so often been a refuge from the tossings of 
intellectual doubt — a place of repose for the worn and wounded 
spirit. Here is a duty about which all creeds and all philosophies 
are at one : here, at least, the conscience will not be dogged by 
doubt, the benign impulse will not be checked by adverse theory : 
here you may begin to act without settling one preliminary question. 
To moisten the sufferer's parchedlips through the long night-watches, 
to bear up the drooping head, to lift the helpless limbs, to divine 
the want that can find no utterance beyond the feeble motion of 
the hand or beseeching glance of the eye — these are offices that 
demand no self-questionings, no casuistry, no assent to propositions, 
no weighing of consequences. Within the four walls where the 
stir and glare of the world are shut out, and every voice is 
subdued — where a human being lies prostrate, thrown on the 
tender mercies of his fellow, the moral relation of man to man 
is reduced to its utmost clearness and simplicity : bigotry cannot 
I confuse it, theory cannot pervert it, passion, awed into quiescence, 
can neither pollute nor perturb it. As we bend over the sick-bed, 
all the forces of our nature rush towards the channels of pity, 
of patience, and of love, and sweep down the miserable choking 
drift of our quarrels, our debates, our would-be wisdom, and our 
clamorous selfish desires. This blessing of serene freedom from 
the importunities of opinion lies in all simple direct acts of mercy, 
and is one source of that sweet calm which is often felt by the 
watcher in the sick-room, even when the duties there are of a 
hard and terrible kind. 

Something of that benign result was felt by Janet during her 
tendance in her husband's chamber. When the first heart- 
piercing hours were over — when her horror at his delirium was 
no longer fresh, she began to be conscious of her relief from the 
burthen of decision as to her future course. The question that 




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JANET'S REPENTANCE 403 

agitated her, about returning to her husband, had been solved in 
a moment ; and this illness, after all, might be the herald of 
another blessing, just as that dreadful midnight when she stood 
an outcast in cold and darkness had been followed by the dawn 
of a new hope. Robert would get better ; this illness might 
alter him ; he would be a long time feeble, needing help, walking 
with a crutch, perhaps. She would wait on him with such 
tenderness, such all-forgiving love, that the old harshness and 
cruelty must melt away for ever under the heart-sunshine she 
would pour around him. Her bosom heaved at the thought, 
and delicious tears fell. Janet's was a nature in which hatred 
and revenge could find no place ; the long bitter years drew half 
their bitterness from her ever-living remembrance of the too short 
years of love that went before ; and the thought that her husband 
would ever put her hand to his lips again, and recall the days when 
they sat on the grass together, and he laid scarlet poppies on her 
black hair, and called her his gypsy queen, seemed to send a tide of 
loving oblivion over all the harsh and stony space they had 
traversed since. The Divine Love that had already shone upon 
her would be with her ; she would lift up her soul continually 
for help ; Mr. Tryan, she knew, would pray for her. If she felt 
herself failing, she would confess it to him at once ; if her feet 
began to slip, there was that stay for her to cling to. Oh, she 
could never be drawn back into that cold damp vault of sin and 
despair again ; she had felt the morning sun, she had tasted the 
sweet pure air of trust and penitence and submission. 

These were the thoughts passing through Janet's mind as she 
hovered about her husband's bed, and these were the hopes she 
poured out to Mr. Tryan when he called to see her. It was so 
evident that they were strengthening her in her new struggle — 
they shed such a glow of calm enthusiasm over her face as she 
spoke of them, that Mr. Tryan could not bear to throw on them 
the chill of premonitory doubts, though a previous conversation 
he had had with Mr. Pilgrim had convinced him that there was 
not the faintest probability of Dempster's recovery. Poor Janet 
did not know the significance of the changing symptoms, and when, 
after the lapse of a week, the delirium began to lose some of its 
violence, and to be interrupted by longer and longer intervals 
of stupor, she tried to think that these might be steps on the 
way to recovery, and she shrank from questioning Mr. Pilgrim 
lest he should confirm the fears that began to get predominance 
in her mind. But before many days were past, he thought it 
right not to allow her to blind herself any longer. One day — it 
was just about noon, when bad news always seems most sickening 



X x 



404 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

— he led her from her husband^s chamber into the opposite 
drawing-room, where Mrs. Raynor was sitting, and said to her, 
in that low tone of sympathetic feeling which sometimes gave a 
sudden air of gentleness to this rough man — 

' My dear Mrs. Dempster, it is right in these cases, you know, 
to be prepared for the worst. I think I shall be saving you pain 
by preventing you from entertaining any false hopes, and 
Mr. Dempster's state is now such that I fear we must consider 
recovery impossible. The affection of the brain might not have 
been hopeless, but, you see, there is a terrible complication ; and 
I am grieved to say the broken limb is mortifying.' 

Janet listened with a sinking heart. That future of love and 
forgiveness would never come, then : he was going out of her 
sight for ever, where her pity could neirer reach him. She 
turned cold, and trembled. #' 

' But do you think he will die,' she said, * without ever coming 
to himself? without ever knowing meV. 

* One cannot say that with certainty. It is not impossible 
that the cerebral oppression may subside^ and that he may become 
conscious. If there is anything you would wish to be said or done 
in that case, it would be well to be prepared. I should think,' 
Mr. Pilgrim continued, turning to Mrs. Raynor, * Mr. Dempster's 
affairs are likely to be in order — his will is . . .' 

*0h, I wouldn't have him troubled about those things,' 
interrupted Janet, * he haa no relations but quite distant ones — 
no one but me. I wouldn't take up the time with that. I only 
want to . . .' 

She was unable to finish ; she felt her sobs rising, and left 
the room. * God,' she said, inwardly, ' is not Thy love greater 
than mine ? Have mercy on him ! have mercy on him ! ' 

This happened on Wednesday, ten days after the fatal accident. 
By the following Sunday, Dempster was in a state of rapidly 
increasing prostration ; and when Mr. Pilgrim, who, in turn 
with his assistant, had slept in the house from the beginning, 
came in, about half-past ten, as usual, he scarcely believed 
that the feebly struggling life would last out till morning. For 
the last few days he had been administering stimulants to relieve 
the exhaustion which had succeeded the alternations of delirium 
and stupor. This slight office was all that now remained to be 
(lone for the patient ; so at eleven o'clock Mr. Pilgrim went to 
bed, having given directions to the nurse, and desired her to call 
him if any change took place, or if Mrs. Dempster desired his 
presence. 

Janet could not be persuaded to leave the room. She was 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 405 

yearning and watching for a moment in which her husband's eyes 
would rest consciously upon her, and he would know that she 
had forgiven him. 

How changed he was since that terrible Monday, nearly a fortnight 
ago ! He lay motionless, but for the irregular breathing that 
stirred his broad chest and thick muscular neck. His features 
were no longer purple and swollen ; they were pale, sunken, and 
haggard. A cold perspiration stood in beads on the protuberant 
forehead, and on the wasted hands stretched motionless on the 
bed-clothes. It was better to see the hands so than convulsively 
'picking the air, as they had been a week ago. 

Janet sat on the edge of the bed through the long hours of 
candle-light, watching the unconscious half-closed eyes, wiping the 
perspiration from the brow and cheeks, and keeping her left hand 
on the cold unanswering right hand that lay beside her on the 
bed-clothes. She was almost as pale as her dying husband, and 
there were dark lines under her eyes, for this was the third night 
since she had taken off her clothes ; but the eager straining gaze 
of her dark eyes, and the acute sensibility that lay in every line 
about her mouth, made a strange contrast with the blank un- 
consciousness and emaciated animalism of the face she was 
watching. 

There was profound stillness in the house. She heard no 
sound but her husband's breathing and the ticking of the watch 
on the mantelpiece. The candle, placed high up, shed a soft 
light down on the one object she cared to see. There was a 
smell of brandy in the room ; it was given to her husband from 
time to time ; but this smell, which at first had produced in her 
a faint shuddering sensation, was now becoming indifferent to 
her : she did not even perceive it ; she was too unconscious of 
herself to feel either temptations or accusations. She only felt 
that the husband of her youth was dying ; far, far out of her 
reach, as if she were standing helpless on the shore, while he was 
sinking in the black storm -waves; she only yearned for one 
moment in which she might satisfy the deep forgiving pity of her 
soul by one look of love, one word of tenderness. 

Her sensations and thoughts were so persistent that she could 
not measure the hours, and it was a surprise to her when the 
nurse put out the candle, and let in the faint morning light. 
Mrs. Raynor, anxious about Janet, was already up, and now 
brought in some fresh coffee for her ; and Mr. Pilgrim, having 
awaked, had hurried on his clothes, and was come in to see how 
Dempster was. 

This change from candle-light to morning, this recommencement 



406 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

of the same round of thiii^ that had happened yesterday, was a 
discouragement rather than a relief to Janet. She was more 
conscious of her chill weariness ; the new light thrown on her 
husband's fiice seemed to reveal the still work that death had 
l)een doing through the night ; she felt her last lingering hope 
that he would ever know her again forsake her. 

But now, Mr. Pilgrim, having felt the pulse, was putting 
some brandy in a tea-spoon between Dempster's lips ; the brandy 
went down, and his breathing became freer. Janet noticed the 
change, and her heart beat faster as she leaned forward to watch 
him. Suddenly a slight movement, like the passing away of a 
shadow, was visible in his face, and he opened his eyes full 
on Janet. 

It was almost like meeting him again on the resurrection 
morning, after the night of the grave. 

* Robert, do you know me ? ' 

He kept his eyes fixed on her, and there was a faintly 
l)erceptible motion of the lips, as if he wanted to speak. 

But the moment of speech was for ever gone — the moment for 
asking pardon of her, if he wanted to ask it. Could he read the 
full forgiveness that was written in her eyes 1 She never knew ; 
for, as she was bending to kiss him, the thick veil of death fell 
between them, and her lips touched a corpse. 



CHAPTER XXV 

The faces looked very hard and unmoved that surrounded 
Dempster's grave, while old Mr. Crewe read the burial-service in 
his low, broken voice. The pall-bearers were such men as Mr. 
Pittman, Mr. Lowme, and Mr. Budd — men whom Dempster had 
called his friends while he was in life ; and worldly faces never 
look so worldly as at a funeral. They have the same effect of 
grating incongruity as the sound of a coarse voice breaking the 
solemn silence of night. 

The one face that had sorrow in it was covered by a thick 
crape-veil, and the soitow was suppressed and silent. No one 
knew how deep it was; for the thought in most of her neighbours' 
minds was, that Mrs. Dempster could hardly have had better 
fortune than to lose a bad husband who had left her the com- 
pensation of a good income. They found it difl&cult to conceive 
that her husband's death could be felt by her otherwise than as a 
deliverance. The person who was most thoroughly convinced 
that Janet's grief was deep and real was Mr. Pilgrim, who in 
general was not at all weakly given to a belief in disinterested 
feeling. 

* That woman has a tender heart,' he was frequently heard to 
observe in his morning rounds about this time. * I used to think 
there was a great deal of palaver in her, but you may depend 
upon it there's no pretence about her. If he'd been the kindest 
husband in the world she couldn't have felt more. There's a 
great deal of good in Mrs. Dempster — a great deal of good.' 

* / always said so,' was Mrs. Lowme's reply, when he made 
the observation to her ; * she was always so very full of pretty 
attentions to me when I was ill. But they tell me now she's 
turned Tryanite ; if that's it we shan't agree again. It's very 
inconsistent in her, I think, turning round in that way, after 
being the foremost to laugh at the Tryanite cant, and especially 
in a woman of her habits ; she should cure herself of them before 
she pretends to be over-religious.' 

407 



408 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

'Well, I think she means U) cure herself, do you know,' said 
Mr. Pilgrim, whose goo<lwill towards Janet was now quite above 
that temperate point at which he could indulge his feminine 
patients with a little judicious detraction. * I feel sure she has not 
taken any stimulants all through her husband's illness ; and she 
has been constantly in the way of them. I can see she sometimes 
suffers a good deal of depression for want of them — it shows all 
the more resolution in her. Those cures are rare ; but IVe 
known them happen sometimes with people of strong will.' 

Mrs. Lowme took an oi)portunity of retailing Mr. Pilgrim's 
conversation to Mrs. Phipps, who, as a victim of Pratt and 
plethora, could rarely enjoy that pleasure at first-hand. Mrs. 
Phipps was a woman of decided opinions, though of wheezy 
utterance. 

* For my part,' she remarked, ' I'm glad to hear there's any 
likelihood of improvement in Mrs. Dempster, but I think the way 
things have turned out seems to show that she was more to 
blame than people thought she was ; else, why should she feel so 
much about her husband ? And Dempster, I understand, has left 
his wife pretty nearly all his property to do as she likes with : 
that isn't behaving like such a very bad husband. I don't believe 
Mrs. Dempster can have had so much provocation as they pre- 
tended. I've known husbands who've laid plans for tormenting 
their wives when they're underground — tying up their money and 
hindering them from marrying again. Not that / should ever 
wish to marry again ; I think one husband in one's life is enough 
in all conscience ' ; — here she threw a fierce glance at the amiable 
Mr. Phipps, who was innocently delighting himself with the 
facetiae in the Rotherhy Guardian^ and thinking the editor must 
be a droll fellow — *but it's aggravating to be tied up in that 
way. Why, they say Mrs. Dempster will have as good as six 
hundred a year at least. A fine thing for her, that was a poor 
girl without a farthing to her fortune. It's well if she doesn't 
make ducks and drakes of it somehow.' 

Mrs. Phipps's view of Janet, however, was far from being the 
prevalent one in Milby. Even neighbours who had no strong 
personal interest in her, could hardly see the noble-looking woman 
in her widow's dress, with a sad sweet gravity in her face, and 
not be touched with fresh admiration for her —and not feel, at 
least vaguely, that she had entered on a new life in which it was 
a sort of desecration to allude to the painful past. And the old 
fi-iends who had a real regard for her, but whose cordiality had 
been repelled or chilled of late years, now came round her with 
hearty demonstrations of affection. Mr. Jerome felt that his 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 409 

happiness had a substantial addition now he could once more call 
on that *nice little woman Mrs. Dempster,' and think of her with 
rejoicing instead of sorrow. The Pratts lost no time in returning 
to the footing of old-established friendship with Janet and her 
mother ; and Miss Pratt felt it incumbent on her, on all suitable 
occasions, to deliver a very emphatic approval of the remarkable 
strength of mind she understood Mrs. Dempster to be exhibiting. 
The Miss Linnets were eager to meet Mr. Tryan's wishes by 
greeting Janet as one who was likely to be a sister in religious 
feeling and good works ; and Mrs. Linnet was so agreeably 
surprised by the fact that Dempster had left his wife the money 
' in that handsome way, to do what she liked with it,' that she 
even included Dempster himself, and his villanous discovery of the 
flaw in her title to Pye's Croft, in her magnanimous oblivion of 
past offences. She and Mrs. Jerome agreed over a friendly cup of 
tea that there were * a many husbands as was very fine spoken an' 
all that, an' yet all the while kep' a will locked up from you, as 
tied you up as tight as anything. I assure you^^ Mrs. Jerome 
continued, dropping her voice in a confidential manner, * I know 
no more to this day about Mr. Jerome's will, nor the child as is 
imbom. I've no fears about a income — I'm well aware Mr. 
Jerome 'ud niver leave me stret for that ; but I should like to 
hev a thousand or two at my own disposial ; it makes a widow a 
deal more looked on.' 

Perhaps this ground of respect to widows might not be entirely 
without its influence on the Milby mind, and might do something 
towards conciliating those more aristocratic acquaintances of 
Janet's, who would otherwise have been inclined to take the 
severest view of her apostasy towards Evangelicalism. Errors 
look so very ugly in persons of small means — one feels they are 
taking quite a liberty in going astray ; whereas people of fortune 
may naturally indulge in a few delinquencies. * They've got the 
money for it,' as the girl said of her mistress who had made her- 
self ill with pickled salmon. However it may have been, there 
was not an acquaintance of Janet's, in Milby, that did not offer 
her civilities in the early days of her widowhood. Even the 
severe Mrs. Phipps was not an exception ; for heaven knows 
what would become of our sociality if we never visited people we 
speak ill of: we should live, like Egyptian hermits, in crowded 
solitude. 

Perhaps the attentions most grateful to Janet were those of 
her old friend Mrs. Crewe, whose attachment to her favourite 
proved quite too strong for any resentment she might be supposed 
to feel on the score of Mr. Tryan. The little deaf old lady 



410 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

couldn't do without her accustomed visitor, whom she had seen 
grow up from child to woman, always so willing to chat with 
her and tell her all the news, though she was deaf ; while other 
people thought it tiresome to shout in her ear, and irritated her 
by recommending ear-trumpets of various construction. 

All this friendliness was very precious to Janet. She was 
conscious of the aid it gave her in the self-conquest which was 
the blessing she prayed for with every fresh morning. The chief 
strength of her nature lay in her affection, which coloured all the 
rest of her mind : it gave a personal sisterly tenderness to her 
acts of benevolence ; it made her cling with tenacity to every 
object that had once stirred her kindly emotions. Alas ! it was 
unsatisfied, wounded affection that had made her trouble greater 
than she could bear. And now there was no check to the full 
flow of that plenteous current in her nature — no gnawing secret 
anguish -no overhanging terror — no inward shame. Friendly 
faces beamed on her ; she felt that friendly hearts were approving 
her, and wishing her well, and that mild sunshine of goodwill fell 
beneficently on her new hopes and efforts, as the clear shining 
after rain falls on the tender leaf-buds of spring, and wins them 
from promise to fulfilment. 

And she needed these secondary helps, for her wrestling with 
her past self was not always e^sy. The strong emotions from 
which the life of a human being receives a new bias, win their 
victory as the sea wins his : though their advance may be sure, 
they will often, after a mightier wave than usual, seem to roll 
back so far as to lose all the ground they had made. Janet 
showed the strong bent of her will by taking every outward 
precaution against the occurrence of a temptation, j Her mother 
was now her constant companion, having shut up her little 
dwelling and come to reside in Orchard Street ; and Janet gave 
all dangerous keys into her keeping, entreating her to lock them 
away in some secret place. Whenever the too well-known 
depression and craving threatened her, she would seek a refuge in 
what had always been her purest enjoyment — in visiting one of 
her poor neighbours, in carrying some food or comfort to a sick- 
bed, in cheering with her smile some of the familiar dwellings up 
the dingy back lanes. But the great source of courage, the great 
help to perseverance, was the sense that she had a friend and 
teacher in Mr. Tiyan : she could confess her difficulties to him ; 
she knew he prayed for her ; she had always before her the 
prospect of soon seeing him, and hearing words of admonition and 
comfort, that came to her charged with a divine power such as 
she had never found in human words before. 



JANETS REPENTANCE 411 

So the time passed, till it was far on in May, nearly a month 
after her husband's death, when, as she and her mother were 
seated peacefully at breakfast in the dining-room, looking through 
the open window at the old-fashioned garden, where the grass- 
plot was now whitened with apple-blossoms, a letter was brought 
in for Mrs. Raynor. 

'Why, there's the Thurston post-mark on it,' she said. *It 
must be about your Aunt Anna. Ah, so it is, poor thing ! she's 
been taken worse this last day or two, and has asked them to 
send for me. That dropsy is carrying her off at last, I daresay. 
Poor thing ! it will be a happy release. I must go, my dear — 
she's your father's last sister — though I am sorry to leave you. 
However, perhaps I shall not have to stay more than a night 
or two.' 

Janet looked distressed as she said, * Yes, you must go, mother. 
But I don't know what I shall do without you. I think I shall 
run in to Mrs. Pettifer, and ask her to come and stay with me 
while you're away. I'm sure she will.' 

At twelve o'clock, Janet, having seen her mother in the coach 
that was to carry her to Thurston, called, on her way back, at 
Mrs. Pettifer 's, but found, to her great disappointment, that her 
old friend was gone out for the day. So she wrote on a leaf of 
her pocket-book an urgent request that Mrs. Pettifer would come 
and stay with her while her mother was away ; and, desiring the 
servant-girl to give it to her mistress as soon as she came home, 
walked on to the Vicarage to sit with Mrs. Crewe, thinking to 
relieve in this way the feeling of desolateness and undefined fear 
that was taking possession .of her on being left alone for the first 
time since that great crisis in her life. And Mrs. Crewe, too, 
was not at home ! 

Janet, with a sense of discouragement for which she rebuked 
herself as childish, walked sadly home again ; and when she 
entered the vacant dining-room, she could not help bursting into 
tears. It is such vague undefinable states of susceptibility as 
this — states of excitement or depression, half mental, half 
physical— that determine many ^ tragedy in women's lives. 
Janet could scarcely eat anything at her solitary dinner : she 
tried to fix her attention on a book in vain ; she walked about 
the garden, and felt the very sunshine melancholy. 

Between four and five o'clock, old Mr. Pittman called, and 
joined her in the garden, w^here she had been sitting for some 
time under one of the great apple-trees, thinking how Eobert, 
in his best moods, used to take little Mamsey to look at the 
cucumbers, or to see the Aldemey cow with its calf in the 



412 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

paddock. The tears and sobs had come again at these 
thoughts ; and when Mr. Pittman approached her, she was 
feeling languid and exhausted. But the old gentleman's sight 
and sensibility were obtuse, and, to Janet's satisfaction, he 
showed no consciousness that she was in grief. 

* I have a task to impose upon you, Mrs. Dempster,' he said, 
with a certain toothless pomposity habitual to him : ' I want you 
to look over those lettera again in Dempster's bureau, and see if 
you can find one from Poole about the mortgage on those houses 
at Dingley. It will be worth twenty pounds, if you can find it ; 
and I don't know where it can be, if it isn't among those letters 
in the bureau. I've looked everywhere at the office for it. I'm 
going home now, but I'll call again to-morrow, if you'll be good 
enough to look in the meantime.' 

Janet said she would look directly, and turned with Mr. 
Pittman into the house. But the search would take her some 
time, so he bade her good-bye, and she went at once to a bureau 
which stood in a small back-room, where Dempster used sometimes 
to write letters and rec^eive people who came on business out of 
office hours. She had looked through the contents of the bureau 
more than once ; but to-day, on removing the last bundle of 
letters from one of the compartments, she saw what she had 
never seen before, a small nick in the wood, jnade in the shape 
of a thumb-nail, evidently intended as a means of pushing aside 
the movable back of the compartment. In her examination 
hitherto she had not found such a letter as Mr. Pittman had 
described — perhaps there might be more letters behind this slide. 
She pushed it back at once, and saw — no letters, but a small 
spirit-decanter, half full of pale brandy, Dempster's habitual 
drink. 

An impetuous desire shook Janet through all her members ; 
it seemed to master her with the inevitable force of strong fmnes 
that flood our senses before we are aware. Her hand was on the 
decanter ; pale and excited, she was lifting it out of its niche, 
when, with a start and a shudder, she dashed it to the ground, 
and the room was filled with the odour of the spirit. Without 
staying to shut up the bureau, she rushed out of the room, 
snatched up her bonnet and mantle which lay in the dining-room, 
and hurried out of the house. 

Where should she go ? In what place would this demon that 
had re-entered her be scared back again? She walked rapidly 
along the street in the direction of the church. She was soon at 
the gate of the churchyard ; she passed through it, and made 
her way across the graves to a spot she knew— a spot where the 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 413 

turf had been stirred not long before, where a tomb was to be 
erected soon. It was very near the church wall, on the side 
Tvhich now lay in deep shadow, quite shut out from the rays of 
the westering sun by a projecting buttress. 

Janet sat down on the ground. It was a sombre spot. A 
thick hedge, surmounted by elm-trees, was in front of her ; a 
projecting buttress on each side. But she wanted to shut out 
even these objects. Her thick crape-veil was down ; but she 
closed her eyes behind it, and pressed her hands upon them. 
She wanted to summon up the vision of the past ; she wanted 
to lash the demon out of her soul with the stinging memories of 
the bygone miseiy ; she wanted to renew the old horror and the 
old anguish, that she might throw herself with the more desperate 
clinging energy at the foot of the cross, where the Divine 
SuflFerer would impart divine strength. She tried to recall those 
first bitter moments of shame, which were like the shuddering 
discovery of the leper that the dire taint is upon him ; the 
deeper and deeper lapse ; the on-coming of settled despair ; 
the awful moments by the bedside of her self-maddened husband. 
And then she tried to live through, with a remembrance made 
more vivid by that contrast, the blessed hours of hope and joy 
and peace that had come to her of late, since her whole soul had 
been bent towards the attainment of purity and holiness. 

But now, when the paroxysm of temptation was past, dread 
and despondency began to thrust themselves, like cold heavy 
mists, between her and the heaven to which she wanted to look 
for light and guidance. The temptation would come again — that 
rush of desire might overmaster her the next time — she would 
slip back again into that deep slimy pit from which she had been 
once rescued, and there might be no deliverance for her more. 
Her prayers did not help her, for fear predominated over trust ; 
she had no confidence that the aid she sought would be given ; 
the idea of her future fall had grasped her mind too strongly. 
Alone, in this way, she was powerless. If she could see 
Mr. Tryan, if she could confess all to him, she might gather 
hope again. She must see him ; she must go to him. 

Janet rose from the ground, and walked away with a quick 
resolved step. She had been seated there a long while, and the 
sun had already sunk. It was late for her to walk to Paddiford 
and go to Mr. Tryan's, where she had never called before; but 
there was no other way of seeing him that evening, and she could 
not hesitate about it. She walked towards a footpath through 
the fields, which would take her to Paddiford without obliging 
her to go through the town. The way was rather long, but she 



414 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

preferred it, because it left less probability of her meeting 
acquaintances, and she shrank from having to speak to any 
one. 

The evening red had nearly faded by the time Janet knocked 
at Mrs. Wagstaff s door. The good woman looked surprised to 
see her at that hour; but Janet's mourning weeds and the 
painful agitation of her face quickly brought the second thought, 
that some urgent trouble had sent her there. 

* Mr. Tryan's just come in,' she said. * If you'll step into the 
parlour, I'll go up and tell him you're here. He seemed very 
tired and poorly.' 

At another time Janet would have felt distress at the idea that 
she was disturbing Mr. Tryan when he required rest ; but now 
her need was too great for that : she could feel nothing but a 
sense of coming relief, when she heard his step on the stair and 
saw him enter the room. 

He went towards her with a look of anxiety, and said, * I fear 
something is the matter. I fear you are in trouble.' 

Then poor Janet poured forth her sad tale of temptation and 
despondency ; and even while she was confessing she felt half her 
burthen removed. The act of confiding in human sympathy, the 
consciousness that a fellow-being was listening to her with patient 
pity, prepared her soul for that stronger leap by which faith 
grasps the idea of the Divine sympathy. When Mr. Tryan 
spoke words of consolation and encouragement, she could now 
believe the message of mercy ; the water -floods that had 
threatened to overwhelm her rolled back again, and life once 
more spread its heaven-covered space before her. She had been 
unable to pray alone ; but now his prayer bore her own soul 
along with it, as the broad tongue of flame carries upwards in 
its vigorous leap the little flickering fire that could hardly keep 
alight by itself 

But Mr. Tryan was anxious that Janet should not linger out 
at this late hour. When he saw that she was calmed, he said, 
* I will walk home with you now ; we can talk on the way.' 
But Janet's mind was now sufficiently at liberty for her to notice 
the signs of feverish weariness hi his appearance, and she would 
not hear of causing him any further fatigue. 

' No, no,' she said, earnestly, * you will i)ain me very much — 
indeed you will, by going out agjiin to-night on my account. 
There is no real reason why I should not go alone.' And when 
he persisted, fearing that for her to be seen out so late alone 
might excite remark, she said imploringly, with a half sob in her 
voice, ' What should I —what would others like me do, if you 



•. ••' 1 ;•■ ■•-. It l^'I't ^<.^ }.i*.}.:ilHliry of lur .. 

'.•■•<. .jr. t -lit* --iu.il.K r.Min l|:ivin,ir ^o ■'tM'-jK . 

I -f •' '.i ' n'll li ... j|. ■''' t';.'. ••! l.y 'Jn* {i^ut* J lUrt -. 
\1'- \\' ••>'..)' 'io..|. 'j'..' J J \\<.ii:ni 1':miL«'iI surini^- 
• 'I 'i MKit h' ;i. ; i .t .)mii' I - in)".nnnir \v« {•«!> ;iii.i 
• ..!■..'• ■ :!•.■' o+'i.trr.f. <in:«-klv br-i. '^;i ;'■■ ^•■i-hjuI t i,-«i. j • 
I - ' ■• '--..1 :r.il.:, '!;•.! ^t>nr ^i.-r there. 

^» 'Vin'. •:-♦ (■ .' IP.' ^li»' - »i«l. * If Vi':''Il >t*|>i])tot' • 
••"'<. ••• uj, n-.d •• 'i l.iM \"iiV, !-»ir. fl-- so^pumI »,.•-. 

J • M ! ' • ' I • \ . * 

'• : ■■ •• r ^'-1 . .] ,'■ -r w.rM ■■;.• r f..;. ;iisln'-s at ih. iilfa t'. r 
-I- ,^;l< «li-: nh' -/ *♦:-. 'I '■••in v, {i.Mi "he nnmrtMi i»-t : I»iii n-i.v 
5.'- •■<!.v .- ...» '_ Jit \' n' I'l-'l : ^}u' couM f'f] i«.>f'jii»<jr Imi' . 
*. n •* « .::..- .'". . i". v^n -'lu' Ih'jrNl bis sit'p on the >t.ni nn- 

\\< wf. ?')v\.;!i.- li -r witJ! » lt(»k !)f ;ni\'lotv, uuil s.-iiii, *I fo:n 
..!:;♦ '»h'i'' .^ tti. jiiriitir I r. ■"• v<u ;.rr i!5 tn)ii}'l(." 

Tin T. ■•»•.;. til* r Tr.Mi'il t'f ^\ In r s:i<i tale of tcinftati'm -pj*! 
•i«'-f' •• : u * II. 1 ( r . 1 V. l;'.'t >li'' \v:'s cmifi .- Iiii: -lir frlT half ij« ;• 
: .!t!."ii • • .M'l 'i't... lift f»f .'..pii h'lj in hiuiiau .synipjitliy. th« 
(•.t^l.•^ >-«u-'M .-- th'it n ff'i'iiH' lu-ii '_•• \s;is ]i^rt'nluiz• t(j her wirli j^aticut 
jiiN. |i:'i.!M.i h ^ ?.■'.' fcr rhat >!ri''L-iT h»a}) i»y wiiirh faith 
.. j»> I'.f "''i «.f \'.^^- J);mih' s\in|»athy. Wlicn Mr. 'i'ryaii 
..)kf \^ '••<'- 'f »•<. i-' 1. ,(•.«.]{ and (nK*«)iii\ip'ni('iit. sli*' vovh] nnw 
•.;'«'\»- lii" 111.--:'.' <»f iivr. yr ihe water th)0< Is that h.jii 
fl r.;ii< M'-.i 1.' I'.wlicha \\vr n>]h'<l l)ack aj^aiii, aii<l iifo vi^tc 
U' ••' s-ti'-ad jt- l.r-,\<'ii , ..\i '. (1 .->|.;mv JK-forc lier. Sh«' had h^ en 
uii: 'tn* to ]•••: \ •»<'].*•: h'lt now i'i-; prayer horn her om'ii ^<m1 
al'Mej \Mtli it, a>^« the hroad t()nL>Uf' of tlanie carries upw.-irds in 
it- \ii:'.r<.iis U'.ip the Hi tie fli.kerinix fire Ihat could hardly kr*]' 
ali':!it \>\ i---lf. 

lint '>!;•. 'i;\j;ii w.i- anvioii- that .lanet ^lioidd not linjzer <»ii» 
at i\ [^ i.'te lionr W'h.n !"• vmw llMf she \vn< calmed, he ^- id. 
'[ ^^ii! M;dl' hi-nie v. dh y'>u r.ow : we can talk on tlie v.*<\ 
[''it .lanet s nund w.j- now snihei'-nlly at lii>ertv fur her to imt • 
tiie viK|)- of t'.*\.. vish ^' t-aiiness in ]ii> appearan.*.-, an<l she \v,, . 
pf't he.ir of cai;-incr I'iMi ai.y furtlier fjdiunc. 

* No. no," .she s;;'id, cnrTe stlv 'you a. ill pairi vv yrry ui'ii-i 
inderd you wiji. hy T-iiai:- <'Ut e.-:.'.n to-ni.Ldd on my ae'**Mjii;. 
']".. n is \i() r»'a1 rea^v)n \\'hy [ .shouhl not iro alone.' And wh. i. 
li.' j.er'^i^ttMl, fe.irjni:, th.-lt tor hei to he Steii out so late alop* 
mijiit e\eire remark, <l.e sai'' implorin.nrly, with a lialf so]> ji, h 
V ijcr, ' AMiat should I uhat would tithers like me do, it a... 




Poor Janet poured forth her tale. 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 415 

went from us 1 Why will you not think more of that, and take 
care of yourself T 

He had often had that appeal made to him before, but to-night 
— from Janet's lips — it seemed to have a new force for him, and 
he gave way. At first, indeed, he only did so on condition that 
she would let Mrs. Wagstaff go with her; but Janet had determined 
to walk home alone. She preferred solitude j . she wished not to 
have her present feelings distracted by any conversation. 

So she went out into the dewy starlight ; and as Mr. Tryan 
turned away from her, he felt a stronger wish than ever 
that his fragile life might last out for him to see Janet's 
restoration thoroughly established — to see her no longer fleeing, 
struggling, clinging up the steep sides of a precipice whence she 
might be any moment hurled back into the depths of despair, 
but walking firmly on the level ground of habit. He inwardly 
resolved that nothing but a peremptory duty should ever take 
him from Milby — that he would not cease to watch over her until 
life forsook him. 

Janet walked on quickly till she turned into the fields ; then 
she slackened her pace a little, enjoying the sense of solitude 
which a few hours before had been intolerable to her. The 
Divine Presence did not now seem far off, where she had not 
wings to reach it ; prayer itself seemed superfluous in those 
moments of calm trust. The temptation which had so lately 
made her shudder before the possibilities of the future, was now 
a source of confidence ; for had she not been delivered from it ? 
Had not rescue come in the extremity of danger ? Yes ; Infinite 
Love was caring for her. She felt like a little child whose hand 
is firmly grasped by its father, as its frail limbs make their way 
over the rough ground ; if it should stumble, the father will not 
let it go. 

That walk in the dewy starlight remained for ever in Janet's 
memory as one of those baptismal epochs, when the soul, dipped 
in the sacred waters of joy and peace, rises from them with new 
energies, with more unalterable longings. 

When she reached home she found Mrs. Pettifer there, anxious 
for her return. After thanking her for coming, Janet only said, 
* I have been to Mr. Tryan's ; I wanted to speak to him ' ; and 
then remembering how she had left the bureau and papers, she 
went into the back-room, where, apparently, no one had been 
since she quitted it ; for there lay the fragments of glass, and 
the room was still full of the hateful odour. How feeble and 
miserable the temptation seemed to her at this moment ! She 
rang for Kitty to come and pick up the fragments and rub the 



416 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

floor, while she herself replaced the papers and locked up the 
bureau. 

The next morning, when seated at breakfast with Mrs. Pettifer, 
Janet said — 

*What a dreary unhealthy-looking place that is where Mr. 
Tryan lives ! I'm sure it must be very bad for him to live there. 
Do you know, all this morning, since IVe been awake, IVe been 
turning over a little plan in my mind. I think it a charming one 
— all the more, because you are concerned in it.' 

*Why, what can that be?' 

* You know that house on the Redhill road they call Holly 
Mount ; it is shut up now. That is Robert's house ; at least, it 
is mine now, and it stands on one of the healthiest spots about 
here. Now, I've been settling in my own mind, that if a dear 
good woman of my acquaintance, who knows how to make a 
home as comfortable and cosy as a bird's nest, were to take 
up her abode there, and have Mr. Tryan as a lodger, she 
would be doing one of the most useful deeds in all her useful 
life.' 

* You've such a way of wrapping up things in pretty words. 
You must speak plainer.' 

* In plain words, then, I should like to settle you at Holly 
Mount. You would not have to pay any more rent than where 
you are, and it would be twenty times pleasanter for you than 
living up that passage where you see nothing but a brick wall. 
And then, as it is not far from Paddiford, I think Mr. Tryan 
might be persuaded to lodge with you, instead of in that musty 
house, among dead cabbages and smoky cottages. I know you 
would like to have him live with you, and you would be such a 
mother to him.' 

' To be sure I should like it ; it would be the finest thing in 
the world for me. But there'll be furniture wanted. My little 
bit of furniture won't fill that house.' 

* Oh, I can put some in out of this house ; it is too full ; and 
we can buy the rest. They tell me I'm to have more money than 
I shall know what to do with.' 

* I'm almost afraid,' said Mrs. Pettifer, doubtfully, * Mr. Tryan 
will hardly be persuaded. He's been talked to so much about 
leaving that place ; and he always said he must stay there — he 
must be among the people, and there was no other place for him 
in Paddiford. It cuts me to the heart to see him getting thinner 
and thinner, and I've noticed him quite short o' breath sometimes. 
Mrs. Linnet will have it, Mrs. WagstafF half poisons him with 
bad cooking. I don't know about that, but he can't have many 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 417 

comforts. I expect he'll break down all of a sudden some day, 
and never be able to preach any more.' 

* Well, I shall try my skill with him by and by. I shall be 
very cunning, and say nothing to him till all is ready. You and 
I and mother, when she comes home, will set to work directly 
and get the house in order, and then we'll get you snugly settled 
in it. I shall see Mr. Pittman to-day, and I will tell him 
what I mean to do. I shall say I wish to have you for a 
tenant. Everybody knows I'm very fond of that naughty person, 
Mrs. Pettifer ; so it will seem the most natural thing in the 
world. And then I shall by and by point out to Mr. Tryan 
that he will be doing you a service as well as himself by 
taking up his abode with you. I think I can prevail upon 
him ; for last night, when he was quite bent on coming out into 
the night air, I persuaded him to give it up.' 

* Well, I only hope you may, my dear. I don't desire anything 
better than to do something towards prolonging Mr. Tryan's life, 
for I've sad fears about him.' 

* Don't speak of them — I can't bear to think of them. We 
will only think about getting the house ready. We shall be 
as busy as bees. How we shall want mother's clever fingers ! 
I know the room upstairs that will just do for Mr. Tryan's 
study. There shall be no seats in it except a very easy chair 
and a very easy sofa, so that he shall be obliged to rest himself 
when he comes home.' 



2£ 



CHAPTER XXVI 

That was the last terrible crisis of temptation Janet had to pass 
through. The goodwill of her neighbours, the helpful sympathy 
of the friends who shared her religious feelings, the occupations 
suggested to her by Mr. Tryan, concurred, with her strong 
spontaneous impulses towards works of love and mercy, to fill 
up her days with quiet social intercourse and charitable exertion. 
Besides, her constitution, naturally healthy and strong, was every 
week tending, with the gathering force of habit, to recover its 
equipoise, and set her free from those physical solicitations which 
the smallest habitual vice always leaves behind it. The prisoner 
feels where the iron has galled him, long after his fetters have 
been loosed. 

There were always neighbourly visits to be paid and received ; 
and as the months wore on, increasing familiarity with Janet's 
present self began to efface, even from minds as rigid as Mrs. 
Phipps's, the unpleasant impressions that had been left by recent 
years. Janet was recovering the popularity which her beauty 
and sweetness of nature had won for her when she was a girl ; 
and popularity, as every one knows, is the most complex and self- 
multiplying of echoes. Even anti-Tryanite prejudice could not 
resist the fact that Janet Dempster was a changed woman — 
changed as the dusty, bruised, and sun-withered plant is changed 
when the soft rains of heaven have fallen on it — and that 
this change was due to Mr. Tryan's influence. The last lingering 
sneers against the Evangelical curate began to die out ; and 
though much of the feeling that had prompted them remained 
behind, there was an intimidating consciousness that the expression 
of such feeling would not be effective — jokes of that sort had 
ceased to tickle the Milby mind. Even Mr. Budd and Mr. 
Tomlinson, when they saw Mr. Tryan passing pale and worn 
along the street, had a secret sense that this man was somehow 
not that very natural and comprehensible thing, a humbug 
— that, in fact, it was impossible to explain him from the 

418 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 419 

stomach -and -pocket point of view. Twist and stretch their 
theory as they might, it would not fit Mr. Tryan ; and so, 
-with that remarkable resemblance as to mental processes which 
may frequently be observed to exist between plain men and 
philosophers, they concluded that the less they said about 
him the better. 

Among all Janet's neighbourly pleasures, there was nothing 
she liked better than to take an early tea at the White House, 
and to stroll with Mr. Jerome round the old-fashioned garden 
and orchard. There was endless matter for talk between her 
and the good old man, for Janet had that genuine delight in 
human fellowship which gives an interest to all personal details 
that come warm from truthful lips ; and, besides, they had a 
common interest in good-natured plans for helping their poorer 
neighbours. One great object of Mr. Jerome's charities was, as 
he often said, ' to keep industrious men an' women off the parish. 
I'd rether give ten shillin' an' help a man to stan' on his own 
legs, nor pay half-a-crown to buy him a parish crutch ; it's the 
ruination on him if he once goes to the parish. I've see'd many 
a time, if you help a man wi' a present in a neeborly way, it 
sweetens his blood — he thinks it kind on you; but the parish 
shillins turn it sour-^he niver thinks 'em enough.' In illustration 
of this opinion Mr. Jerome had a large store of details about such 
persons as Jim Hardy, the coal-carrier, *as lost his boss,' and 
Sally Butts, * as hed to seU her mangle, though she was as decent 
a woman as need to be ' ; to the hearing of which details Janet 
seriously inclined ; and you would hardly desire to see a prettier 
picture than the kind-faced, white-haired old man telling these 
fragments of his simple experience as he walked, with shoulders 
slightly bent, among the moss-roses and espalier apple-trees, 
while Janet in her widow's cap, her dark eyes bright with interest, 
went listening by his side, and little Lizzie, with her nankin 
bonnet hanging down her back, toddled on before them. Mrs. 
Jerome usually declined these lingering strolls, and often observed, 
* I niver see the like to Mr. Jerome when he's got Mrs. Dempster 
to talk to ; it sinnifies nothin' to him whether we've tea at four 
or at five o'clock ; he'd go on till six, if you'd let him alone — he's 
like off his head.' However, Mrs. Jerome herself could not deny 
that Janet was a very pretty-spoken woman : * She al'ys says, she 
niver gets sich pikelets as mine nowhere ; I know that very well 
— other folks buy 'em at shops — thick, unwholesome things, you 
might as well eat a sponge.' 

The sight of little Lizzie often stirred in Janet's mind a sense 
of the childlessness which had made a fatal blank in her life. 



420 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

She had fleeting thoughts that perhaps among her husband's 
distant relatives there might be some children whom she could 
help to bring up, some little girl whom she might adopt ; and she 
promised herself one day or other to hunt out a second cousin of 
his — a married woman, of whom he had lost sight for many 
years. 

But at present her hands and heart were too full for her to 
carry out that scheme. To her great disappointment, her project 
of settling Mrs. Pettifer at Holly Mount had been delayed by the 
discovery that some repairs were necessary in order to make the 
house habitable, and it was not till September had set in that she 
had the satisfaction of seeing her old friend comfortably installed, 
and the rooms destined for Mr. Tryan looking pretty and cosy to 
her heart's content. She had taken several of his chief friends 
into her confidence, and they were warmly wishing success to her 
plan for inducing him to quit poor Mrs. Wagstafi:''s dingy house 
and dubious cookery. That he should consent to some such 
change was becoming more and more a matter of anxiety to his 
hearers ; for though no more decided symptoms were yet observable 
in him than increasing emaciation, a dry hacking cough, and an 
occasional shortness of breath, it was felt that the fulfilment of 
Mr. Pratt's prediction could not long be deferred, and that this 
obstinate persistence in labour and self-disregard must soon be 
peremptorily cut short by a total failure of strength. Any hopes 
that the influence of Mr. Tryan's father and sister would prevail 
on him to change his mode of life — that they would perhaps come 
to live with him, or that his sister at least might come to see 
him, and that the arguments which had failed from other lips 
might be more persuasive from hers — were now quite dissipated. 
His father had lately had an attack of paralysis, and could not 
spare his only daughter's tendance. On Mr. Tryan's return from 
a visit to his father. Miss Linnet was very anxious to know 
whether his sister had not urged him to try change of air. From 
his answers she gathered that Miss Tryan wished him to give up 
his curacy and travel, or at least go to the south Devonshire 
coast. 

* And why will you not do so T Miss Linnet said ; * you might 
come back to us well and strong, and have many years of useful- 
ness before you.' 

*No,' he answered quietly, *I think people attach more import- 
ance to such measures than is warranted. I don't see any good 
end that is to be served by going to die at Nice, instead of dying 
amongst one's friends and one's work. I cannot leave Milby — at 
least I will not leave it voluntarily.' 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 421 

But though he remained immovable on this point, he had been 
compelled to give up his afternoon service on the Sunday, and to 
accept Mr. Parry's offer of aid in the evening service, as well as 
to curtail his weekday labours ; and he had even written to Mr. 
Prendergast to request that he would appoint another curate to 
the Paddiford district, on the understanding that the new curate 
should receive the salary, but that Mr. Tryan should co-operate 
with him as long as he was able. The hopefulness which is an 
almost constant attendant on consumption, had not the effect of 
deceiving him as to the nature of hfs malady, or of making him 
look forward to ultimate recovery. He believed himself to be 
consumptive, and he had not yet felt any desire to escape the 
early death which he had for some time contemplated as probable. 
Even diseased hopes will take their direction from the strong 
habitual bias of the mind, and to Mr. Tryan death had for years 
seemed nothing else than the laying down of a burthen, under 
which he sometimes felt himself fainting. He was only sanguine 
about his powers of work : he flattered himself that what he was 
unable to do one* week he should be equal to the next, and he 
would not admit that in desisting from any part of his labour, he 
was renouncing it permanently. He had lately delighted Mr. 
Jerome by accepting his long - proffered loan of the * little 
chacenut horse ' ; and he found so much benefit from sub- 
stituting constant riding exercise for walking, that he began 
to think he should soon be able to resume some of the work he 
had dropped. 

That was a happy afternoon for Janet, when, after exerting 
herself busily for a week with her mother and Mrs. Pettifer, she 
saw Holly Mount looking orderly and comfortable from attic to 
cellar. It was an old red-brick house, with two gables in front, 
and two clipped holly-trees flanking the garden-gate ; a simple, 
homely-looking place, that quiet people might easily get fond of ; 
and now it was scoured and polished and carpeted and furnished 
so as to look really snug within. When there was nothing more 
to be done, Janet delighted herself with contemplating Mr. 
Tryan's study, first sitting down in the easy-chair, and then lying 
for a moment on the sofa, that she might have a keener sense of 
the repose he would get from those well-stuffed articles of furniture, 
which she had gone to Rotherby on purpose to choose. 

*Now, mother,' she said, when she had finished her survey, 
'you have done your work as well as any fairy-mother or god- 
mother that ever turned a pumpkin into a coach and horses. 
You stay and have tea cosily with Mrs. Pettifer while I go to 
Mrs. Linnet's. I want to tell Mary and Rebecca the good news, 



422 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

that I've got the exciseman to promise that he will take Mrs. 
Wagstaff 8 lodgings when Mr. Tryan leaves. They'll be so pleased 
to hear it, because they thought he would make her poverty an 
objection to his leaving her.' 

* But, my dear child,' said Mrs. Raynor, whose face, always calm, 
was now a happy one, * have a cup of tea with us first. You'll 
perhaps miss Mrs. Linnet's tea-time.' 

*No, I feel too excited to take tea yet. I'm like a child 
with a new baby -house. Walking in the air will do me 
good.' 

So she set out. Holly Mount was about a mile from that 
outskirt of Paddiford Common where Mrs. Linnet's house stood 
nestled among its laburnums, lilacs, and syringas. Janet's way 
thither lay for a little while along the highroad, and then led 
her into a deep-mtted lane, which wound through a flat tract of 
meadow and pasture, while in front lay smoky Paddiford, and 
away to the left the mother-town of Milby. ^rhere was no line 
of silvery willows marking the course of a stream — no group of 
Scotch firs with their trunks reddening in the' level sunbeams — 
nothing to break the flowerless monotony of grass and hedgerow 
but an occasional oak or elm, and a few cows sprinkled here and 
there. A very commonplace scene, indeed. But what scene was 
ever commonplace in the descending sunlight, when colour has 
awakened from its noonday sleep, and the long shadows awe us 
like a disclosed presence ? Above all, what scene is commonplace 
to the eye that is filled with serene gladness, and brightens all 
things with its own joy ? 

And Janet just now was very happy. As she walked along 
the rough lane with a buoyant step, a half smile of innocent, 
kindly triumph played about her mouth. She was delighting 
beforehand in the anticipated success of her persuasive power, 
and for the time her painful anxiety about Mr. Tryan's health 
was thrown into abeyance. But she had not gone far along the 
lane before she heard the sound of a horse advancing at a 
walking pace behind her. Without looking back, she turned 
aside to make way for it between the ruts, and did not notice 
that for a moment it had stopped, and had then come on with 
a slightly quickened pace. In less than a minute she heard a 
well-known voice say, 'Mrs. Dempster'; and, turning, saw 
Mr. Tryan close to her, holding his horse by the bridle. It 
seemed very natural to her that he should be there. Her mind 
was so full of his presence at that moment, that the actual sight 
of him was only like a more vivid thought, and she behaved, as 
we are apt to do when feeling obliges us to be genuine, with a 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 423 

total forgetfiilness of polite forms. She only looked at him with 
a slight deepening of the smile that was already on her face. He 
said gently, * Take my arm ' ; and they walked on a little way in 
silence. 

It was he who broke it. * You are going to Paddiford, I 
suppose ! ' 

The question recalled Janet to the consciousness that this was 
an unexpected opportunity for beginning her work of persuasion, 
and that she was stupidly neglecting it. 

*Yes,' she said, *I was going to Mrs. Linnet's. I knew 
Miss Linnet would like to hear that our friend Mrs. Pettifer is 
quite settled now in her new house. She is as fond of Mrs. 
Pettifer as I am — almost ; I won't admit that any one loves her 
quite as well, for no one else has such good reason as I have. 
But now the dear woman wants a lodger, for you know she can't 
afford to live in so large a house by herself But I knew when I 
persuaded her to go there that she would be sure to get one — 
she's such a comfortable creature to live with ; and I didn't like 
her to spend all the rest of her days up that dull passage, 
being at every one's beck and call who wanted to make use 
of her.' 

*Yes,' said Mr. Tryan, *I quite understand your feeling; I 
don't wonder at your strong regard for her.' 

' Well, but now I want her other friends to second me. 
There she is, with three rooms to let, ready furnished, everything 
in order ; and I know some one, who thinks as well of her as I 
do, and who would be doing good all round — to every one that 
knows him, as well as to Mrs. Pettifer, if he would go to live 
with her. He would leave some uncomfortable lodgings, which 
another person is already coveting and would take immediately ; 
and he would go to breathe pure air at Holly Mount, and gladden 
Mrs. Pettifer's heart by letting her wait on him ; and comfort all 
his friends, who are quite miserable about him.' 

Mr. Tryan saw it all in a moment — he saw that it had all 
been done for his sake. He could not be sorry; he could not 
say no ; he could not resist the sense that life had a new sweetness 
for him, and that he should like it to be prolonged a little — only 
a little, for the sake of feeling a stronger security about Janet. 
When she had finished speaking, she looked at him with a 
doubtful, inquiring glance. He was not looking at her; his 
eyes were cast downwards ; but the expression of his face 
encouraged her, and she said, in a half-playful tone of entreaty — 

* You will go and live with her ? I know you will. You will 
come back with me now and see the house.' 



424 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

He looked at her then, and smiled. There is an unspeakable 
blending of sadness and sweetness in the smile of a face sharpened 
and paled by slow consumption. That smile of Mr. Tryan's 
pierced poor Janet's heart : she felt in it at once the assurance of 
grateful atfection and the prophecy of comijag death. Her tears 
rose ; they turned round without speaking, and went back again 
along the lane. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

In less than a week Mr. Tryan was settled at Holly Mount, and 
there was not one of his many attached hearers who did not 
sincerely rejoice at the event. 

The autumn that year was bright and warm, and at the 
beginning of October, Mr. Walsh, the new curate, came.. The 
mild weather, the relaxation from excessive work, and perhaps 
another benignant influence, had for a few weeks a visibly 
favourable effect on Mr. Tryan. At least he began to fe^l new 
hopes, which sometimes took the guise of new strength. He 
thought of the cases in which consumptive patients remain 
nearly stationary for years, without suffering so as to make their 
life burthensome to themselves or to others ; and he began to 
struggle with a longing that it might be so with him. He 
struggled with it, because he felt it to be an indication that 
earthly affection was beginning to have too strong a hold on him, 
and he prayed earnestly for more perfect submission, and for a 
more absorbing delight in the Divine Presence as the chief good. 
He was conscious that he did not wish for prolonged life solely 
that he might reclaim the wanderers and sustain the feeble : he 
was conscious of a new yearning for those pure human joys which 
he had voluntarily and determinedly banished from his life — for 
a draught of that deep afiection from which he had been cut off by 
a dark chasm of remorse. For now, that affection was within his 
reach ; he saw it there, like a palm-shadowed well in the desert ; 
he could not desire to die in sight of it. 

And so the autumn rolled gently by in its *calm decay.' 
Until November, Mr. Tryan continued to preach occasionally, 
to ride about visiting his flock, and to look in at his schools ; 
but his growing satisfaction in Mr. Walsh as his successor saved 
him from too eager exertion and from worrying anxieties. Janet 
was with him a great deal now, for she saw that he liked her to 
read to him in the lengthening evenings, and it became the rule 
for her and her mother to have tea at Holly Mount, where, with 
Mrs. Pettifer, and sometimes another friend or two, they brought 

425 



426 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE 

Mr. Tryan the unaccustomed enjoyment of companionship by his 
own fireside. 

Janet did not share his new hopes, for she was not only in the 
habit of hearing Mr. Pratt's opinion that Mr. Tryan could hardly 
stand out through the winter, but she also knew that it was 
shared by Dr. Madely of Rotherby, whom, at her request, he had 
consented to call in. It was not necessary or desirable to tell 
Mr. Tryan what was revealed by the stethoscope, but Janet knew 
the worst. 

She felt no rebellion under this prospect of bereavement, but 
rather a quiet submissive sorrow. Gratitude that his influence 
and guidance had been given her, even if only for a little while — 
gratitude that she was permitted to be with him, to take a deeper 
and deeper impress from daily communion with him, to be 
something to him in these last months of his life, was so strong 
in her that it almost silenced regret. Janet had lived through the 
great tragedy of woman's life. Her keenest personal emotions had 
been poured forth in her early love — her wounded affection with its 
. years of anguish — ^her agony of unavailing pity over that deathbed 
1 seven months ago. The thought of Mr. Tryan was associated for 
her with repose from that conflict of emotion, with trust in the 
. unchangeable, with the influx of a power to subdue- self. To have 
[ been assured of his sympathy, his teaching, his help, all through 
her life, would have been to her like a heaven already begun — a 
deliverance from fear and danger ; but the time was not yet come 
for her to be conscious that the hold he had on her heart was any- 
other than that of the heaven-sent friend who had come to her like 
the angel in the prison, and loosed her bonds, and led her by the 
hand till she could look back on the dreadful doors that had once 
closed her in. 

Before November was over Mr. Tryan had ceased to go out. 
A new crisis had come on : the cough had changed its character, 
and the worst symptoms developed themselves so rapidly that 
, Mr. Pratt began to think the end would arrive sooner than he had 
expected. Janet became a constant attendant on him now, and 
no one could feel that she was performing anything but a sacred 
oflice. She made Holly Mount her home, and, with her mother and 
Mrs. Pettifer to help her, she filled the painful days and nights 
with every soothing influence that care and tenderness could 
devise. There were many visitors to the sick-room, led thither 
by venerating affection ; and there could hardly be one who did 
not retain in after -years a vivid remembrance of the scene there 
— of the pale wasted form in the easy-chair (for he sat up to the 
last), of the grey eyes so full even yet of inquiring kindness, as 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 427 

the thin, almost transparent hand was held out to give the pressure 
of welcome ; and of the sweet woman, too, whose dark watchful eyes 
detected every want, and who supplied the want with a ready hand. 

There were others who would have had the heart and the skill 
to fill this place by Mr. Tryan's side, and who would have accepted 
it as an honour; but they could not help feeling that God had 
given it to Janet by a train of events which were too impressive 
not to shame all jealousies into silence. 

That sad history which most of us know too well, lasted more 
than three months. He was too feeble and suffering for the 
last few weeks to see any visitors, but he still sat up through the 
day. The strange hallucinations of the disease which had seemed 
to take a more decided hold on him just at the fatal crisis, and 
had made him think he was perhaps getting better at the very 
time when death had begun to hurry on with more rapid 
movement, had now given way, and left him calmly conscious of the 
reality. One afternoon near the end of February, Janet was 
moving gently about the room, in the fire-lit dusk, arranging some 
things that would be wanted in the night. There was no one else 
in the room, and his eyes followed her as she moved with the firm 
grace natural to her, while the bright fire every now and then lit 
up her face, and gave an unusual glow to its dark beauty. Even 
to follow her in this way with his eyes was an exertion that gave 
a painful tension to his face ; while she looked like an image of life 
and strength. 

* Janet,' he said presently, in his faint voice — he always called 
her Janet now. In a moment she was close to him, bending over 
him. He opened his hand as he looked up at her, and she placed 
hers within it. 

* Janet,' he said again, * you will have a long while to live after 
I am gone.' 

A sudden pang of fear shot through her. She thought he felt 
himself dying, and she sank on her knees at his feet, holding his 
hand, while she looked up at him, almost breathless. 

* But you will not feel the need of me as you have done. . . . 
You have a sure trust in God. ... I shall not look for you in vain 
at the last.' 

* No ... no ... I shall be there . . . God will not forsake me.' 
She could hardly utter the words, though she was not weeping. 

She was waiting with trembling eagerness for anything else he 
might have to say. 

* Let us kiss each other before we part.' 

She lifted up her face to his, and the full life-breathing lips 
met the wasted dying ones in a sacred kiss of promise. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

It soon came — the blessed day of deliverance, the sad day of 
bereavement ; and in the second week of March they carried him 
to the grave. He was buried as he had desired : there was no 
hearse, no mourning-coach ; his coffin was borne by twelve of his 
humbler hearers, who relieved each other by turns. But he was 
followed by a long procession of mourning friends, women as well 
as men. 

Slowly, amid deep silence, the dark stream passed along 
Orcnard Street, where eighteen months before the Evangelical 
curate had been saluted with hootings and hisses. Mr. Jerome 
and Mr. Landor were the eldest pall-bearers ; and behind the 
coffin, led by Mr. Tryan's cousin, walked Janet, in quiet submissive 
sorrow. She could not feel that he was quite gone from her ; 
the unseen world lay so very near her — it held all that had ever 
stirred the depths of anguish and joy within her. 

It was a cloudy morning, and had been raining when they left 
Holly Mount ; but as they walked, the sun broke out, and the 
clouds were rolling off in large masses when they entered the 
churchyard, and Mr. Walsh's voice was heard saying, ' I am the 
Resurrection and the Life.' The faces were not hard at this 
funeral ; the burial-service was not a hollow form. Every heart 
there was filled with the memory of a man who, through a self- 
sacrificing life and in a painful death, had been sustained by the 
faith which fills that form with breath and substance. 

When Janet left the grave, she did not return to Holly Mount ; 
she went to her home in Orchard Street,, where her mother was 
waiting to receive her. She said quite calmly, 'Let us walk 
round the garden, mother.' And they walked round in silence, 
with their hands clasped together, looking at the golden crocuses 
bright in the spring sunshine. Janet felt a deep stillness within. 
She thirsted for no pleasure ; she craved no worldly good. She 
saw the years to come stretch before her like an autumn afternoon, 
filled with resigned memory. Life to her could never more have 

428 



JANET'S REPENTANCE 429 

any eagerness ; it was a solemn service of gratitude and patient 
effort. She walked in the presence of unseen witnesses — of the 
Divine lave that had rescued her, of the human love that waited 
for its eternal repose until it had seen her endure to the end. 

Janet is living still. Her black hair is grey, and her step is 
no longer buoyant ; but the sweetness of her smile remains, the 
love is not gone from her eyes ; and strangers sometimes ask. Who 
is that noble-looking elderly woman that walks about holding a 
little boy by the hand? The little boy is the son of Janet's 
adopted daughter, and Janet in her old age has children about her 
knees, and loving young arms round her neck.* 

There is a simple gravestone in Milby Churchyard, telling that 
in this spot lie the remains of Edgar Tryan, for two years 
officiating curate at the Paddiford Chapel -of- Ease, in this parish. 
It is a meagre memorial, and tells you simply that the man who 
lies there took upon him, faithfully or unfaithfully, the office of 
guide and instructor to his fellow-men. 

But there is another memorial of Edgar Tryan, which bears a 
fuller record : it is Janet Dempster, rescued from self-desj^ir, 
strengthenedwith divine hopes^nd now looking back on years of 
purity and helpful labour. The man who has left such a memorial 
behind him, must have been one whose heart beat with true 
compassion, and whose lips were moved by fervent faith. 



THE END 



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